Aug 3, 2015

[Movies] Nightcrawler (2014)

Tobie and I make no secret of the fact that we both like Jake Gyllenhaal. He has proven to be an interesting mix of attraction and dorky and thus perfectly adorkable. He's fun when he's all bulked up and muscly but we still enjoy him when he's just charming and endearing.

It took us a while to get around to watching Nightcrawler since it's a movie that has him quite significantly transformed in a physical manner into something else. And he isn't quite the charming character either - if anything this is pretty intense film that definitely shows his range as a character actor. You still generally hear his voice as Jake Gyllenhaal's voice but at the same time he also feels very alien.

And the movie is, well, intense, like I said before. I just said it was pretty intense - maybe it's more accurate to say that it's really intense. But not necessarily intense in a classic psycho thriller kind of way, but definitely still intense.

I need to use a different word other than intense.

Synopsis: Nightcrawler is a 2014 neo-noir crime thriller movie written and directed by Dan Gilroy as his directorial debut. The movie premiered at the 2014 Toronto International Film Festival.

The movie centers around Louis Bloom (Jake Gyllenhaal), a somewhat down on his luck kind of guy who resorts to petty theft in order to make ends meet. But everything changes when he arrives at the scene of car crash and notices all the freelance cameramen converging on the scene to take footage. This gets Bloom to thinking this his something he can do. The theft of a bicycle lets him get his hands on camcorder and a radio scanner to capture police frequencies.

With his own camera in hand, he manages to arrive at the scene of a carjacking later that night and he gets some footage of the victim. He forces himself significantly closer to the man in order to get a better shot but eventually gets himself kicked out of the scene by the police. After overhearing another cameraman negotiating prices for his footage, he goes directly to that station in order to beat the other guy to the punch. His footage is crude but very revealing and the morning news director, Nina Romina (Rene Russo) agrees to buy it and explains the sort of footage that she's looking for. And thus their new working relationship begins.

The character of Louis Bloom is both fascinating and scary. Everything that he says generally makes sense and you know it's perfect English. In fact, most of what he says seems to be perfectly textbook and factual - or the sort of platitudes and advice one might get at a business seminar or self-help book. But the way that Jake breaks into all of his dialog accompanied by the intensity of his stares and the how he modulates his voice all make for one creepy character. You know that he's not crazy - if anything, he's scarily intelligent and quite cunning as well.

Jake Gyllenhaal's physical transformation for this role is not something that we can dismiss off-hand as some sort of gimmick. If anything, it's oddly impressive, even if somewhat scary. The physical change was clearly important to creating the character and it all added to his hungry look that defined his outlook of the world. He was a man who was constantly on the look out for an advantage or some sort of leverage to get what he wants. And this movie is all about how he gets it.

At first I thought Rene Russo's role would be something strictly peripheral since most of the "action" would be something you'd expect outside of the studio. But the way this narrative was crafted made sure to make full use of her talents as an actress by also showing she was cut from a similar cloth. And while the two characters repeatedly seemed to be jockeying for position and power, it also showed that they weren't too different from one another and thus this made things all the more dangerous.

I'm doing my best not to give the ending away, but really, this movie is intelligent and crazy fun in a somewhat disturbing way. The twist and turns of how Bloom goes from a guy just hoping to make some extra money to someone creating a wedge to open up new doors for himself is quite the odd narrative of character growth. You may not like what he does in this movie, but you can certainly respect Bloom for what he eventually accomplishes. Some parts may drag a bit and some of the sequences don't always make sense, but that's to be expected from someone's first time in the director's chair.

Nightcrawler is a somewhat heavy and very serious movie that is worth the time and effort but should not be taken lightly. This isn't a movie where you can squee about Jake's attractiveness and charm but instead you are awed by his brilliant performance. Thus the movie gets 4 seemingly constructed news narratives that Bloom manages to create out of a possible 5.


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