After expressing how good I think Nightcrawler is, I was asked why. What makes this movie so good? Well, that’s a fair question. So, let me tell you why I think Nightcrawler is such a good movie.
Jake Gyllenhaal is incredible. I am not sure we have ever seen him this good before, which really is saying something. He is well over half of the screen time in Nightcrawler, likely much more, but we never get tired of watching him. The complexity of his character certainly helps, but Gyllenhaal just does everything so well. We first see him cutting apart a fence with a rather stone-faced expression. When the security guard finds him, he instantly changes his expression to one of innocence and confusion. There is such sincerity in his explanation of innocence that the audience will even want to believe him, despite the clear indicators otherwise. I also liked watching how pleased he became when he knew he was getting good footage. He would always exit his car with such determination, but his eyes would quickly light up when he captured what he wanted. This is especially seen when he moves the body of the man in the car crash and when he edits the footage of the house murders while still out in his car. The scene I was most impressed with was when he was bargaining over the price of his murder house footage. He did not break eye contact with Nina the entire scene, even while moving from the doorway to immediately in front of her. He held his look while imbuing the necessary passion in his impressive and chilling speech. His presentation to us of the character Louis Bloom is mesmerizing. Which brings us to…
Louis Bloom is a fantastic concept for a character. I do not have the expertise to make an official analysis, but he seems to be a sociopath. If nothing else, he certainly has sociopathic tendencies. Being a nightcrawler works for him. In a world that already plays loose with morality, he is willing to go even further. It is intriguing to see him decline down this path step by step. He begins by stealing fences and manhole covers. It can be said that he actually killed the security guard; the argument is equally strong either direction. If he did kill the guard, then it is not really a decline, just a steady constant of moral depravity. In either case, once he begins his nightcrawling, we certainly see a steady decline throughout the film. He begins by moving that man’s body. Ill-advised and illegal, but really not that big of a deal. He then cuts the brakes of his competition. Certainly a strong business decision with a positive result for him, but the result was also murder. He then withholds information about a crime in order to get better footage and more money, resulting in multiple deaths. Including his partner’s. By this point in the movie, his decision was not at all surprising. But it was heartbreaking to watch him willingly deliver his partner to death, then film him as he was dying. What I enjoyed most about the character is that there is logic behind all of his choices. And each of his choices leads him to a more ‘successful’ business. I do not agree with what he did or how he got there, but there was a consistency of character throughout the film to be admired.
This movie is relatable and dark. Breaking Bad is dark, but not many people can relate to a story like that. Nightcrawler is meant to be relatable to people, and it certainly is. The entire idea behind what makes video for news ‘good’ is alarming. The more blood, the better the story. Even better if it is in a good or affluent neighborhood. This is touched both subtly and overtly. Nina briefly mentions to Lou that bloody stories in seemingly ‘safe’ neighborhoods are best. An interaction that can be overlooked at first viewing if you are caught up in the shock of Gyllenhaal’s performance. However, Lou later reads off a number of statistics when expressing to Nina how desperately she needs his videos. If those are even remotely close to being true, then we, as humanity, should take a look at ourselves and reconsider. The large majority of news is dedicated to violent stories, pushing the other issues to the side. The ‘other issues’ by the way are things such as education, government, and positive news stories. If this is how we consume news, then we need to reevaluate, which is exactly what the film is saying. Finally, we spend so much time becoming increasingly uncomfortable with Lou, we never stop to think about how similar we may be like Lou. Yes, Lou is the one filming these violent stories and committing murder. But he is only able to be successful because we are the ones who watch these stories. We crave those stories; we drive Lou’s success. At least, that is what the film seems to be trying to tell us.
My name is Chuck, and these are my thoughts. Now I would like to know what you think. Were you more disturbed or impressed (or both) by Gyllenhaal’s performance? Do you think Nightcrawler needed to be as dark as it was to be effective? Related to that, do you agree or disagree with the conclusions the movie seems to be making? Leave a comment down below, and we’ll talk. Enjoy the day!
Next week: Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales