Assured and unsympathetic, Dan Gilroy’s remarkable debut Nightcrawler embraces the seedier side of humanity a la the world of L.A. crime journalism. All-around odd duck and genuine introvert Louis Bloom (Jake Gyllenhaal) is a self-starter dead set on breaking into said medium, employing exorbitant amounts of time alone in his dimly lit apartment to devise a could-be lucrative game plan. Slowly but surely worming his way through the ranks of irked professionals, Louis soon recruits a partner to tame his burgeoning freelance workload and subsequent monetary gain. As greed and sociopathic tendencies affect all those tangled within Louis’ web of alarming upward mobility, the man’s moral compass diminishes as his actions begin to speak as loud as the words he lengthily spouts. To what end will this shifty character go?
Rarely have I experienced a filmmaker’s inaugural effort this technically staunch and firm in its intentions. Unwavering in its depiction of Louis as a particularly loathsome individual, a steadfast employment of theme and tone aid the agreeably thrilling narrative at regular intervals. In glorifying the tawdry profession that serves as the key player’s professional impetus, we’re offered Gilroy’s perceptive take on our media-obsessed culture and increasing inclinations to invade others’ privacy for entertainment purposes. Awful, yes, but omnipresent all the same and timely as such.
Despite the heavy-handed cautionary angle brought on by Louis’, er, let’s call it “drive,” Nightcrawler is nothing short of a masterclass in intended discomfort and clench-inducing tension. Gyllenhaal’s performance in relation to his compelling if shady onscreen counterpart does wonders for it all, however several sequences throughout the film firmly establish Gilroy’s surprising gusto as a first-time director. A purposefully overlong reconnaissance mission in a mansion-laden mountainside suburb and climactic chase sequence come to mind, both of which serve as excellent anti-blinking and breathing mechanisms.
Nightcrawler is far-and-away one of the more unique efforts of 2014. In terms of both subject matter and presentational prowess, Gilroy and Gyllenhaal’s beneficial partnership is one of particular note. Admirably firm in its tread through some equally grim and refreshing territory, the film is intermittently laced with a personality so magnetic that looking away never becomes a palpable desire. It’s agreeably and frequently taut, well-acted and unfurls at a commendably reasonable clip, all the while cultivating frightening unpredictability thanks to Louis’ shameful exploits.