I am an ardent fan of the cinematic arts. Although I have certain genre preferences, I don’t let that stifle my curiosity and close myself to different flavors of entertainment. That said...I am a huge fan of science fiction, super hero and action movies! Please visit my other blog The Boxed Office for reviews, exclusively, on these types of movies.
Jake Gyllenhaal is an outstanding actor that always seems to gravitate toward roles with some sort of edge to them. In this film he channels his inner “weird” and “disorder” to deliver a performance that keeps you looking at the screen for fear of missing the latest “are you serious?” or “whoa” moment. For a character with which we are not given much background, Gyllenhaal shows us everything we need to see to determine the depths of the dysfunctional life his character had to have lived. It’s not surprising really, as Gyllenhaal dedicated himself to the role by losing twenty pounds and starving himself to channel his character.
Rene Russo has always been enjoyable to watch…well, not so much in the “Lethal Weapon” films, but much more so in the “Thor” movies. In this film, the role fit her skills perfectly and she is able to absolutely sell a woman in charge that is masking the insecurities her position has created. Her interaction with Gyllenhaal is tremendous in exposing her vulnerabilities while at the same time contrasting the depths of which he is far removed from regular society. Scenes like this are set up by the script, but the delivery and selling of them are reflected by the skill of the actor. Russo shows us in this film that she has matured in her craft.
Louis Bloom (Gyllenhaal) is man on a mission that won’t let morality or the law get in the way of his goals. With a quick tongue delivering for an even quicker mind, Lou makes his ends meet by thievery until he happens upon a car accident on the freeway that changes his focus and launches him on a journey that can only be described for him as destiny. With the world of freelance independent filming (of accidents, fires, and crime) opens up to him, he steps through not with a whimper, but with a bang that will effect several people before it’s all over.
Nina Romina (Russo) is a producer for one of the lowest rated networks on Los Angeles television. Tough in her position and driven by her ambition, she is not expecting the collision she has when Lou Bloom enters her life delivering exactly what she needs, but offering what she dare not refuse.
As Lou becomes extremely good at what he does (and what he does is not nearly always legal or moral), there is a power shift in the professional relationship he has with Nina that culminates in a very personal way. As he constantly pushes the envelope of how far he will go the get the story….his ruthless drive becomes how far he will go to make the story. What follows is a thrill ride into a profession few really understand, that leaves a trail of bodies nobody expects.
This film took me for a ride early as the delivery by Gyllenhaal was so creepy and interesting, that I had to keep watching to see what he was about and how he was going to progress. This is the trap of the film as the more you see him, the more you see him evolve, although never in a way that I could truly identify with. I suppose the character having antisocial personality disorder had something to do with that.
That said, it isn’t just the weirdness of the character but the intelligence he displays which he uses to disarm nearly everyone he comes across, despite lacking the ability to fully mask his antisocial nature. I got the feeling much of his education came from sources other than real people, including how to deal with real people, which he then refined…to do exactly that.
I loved how the film brought this out by his interactions with other people, notably Nina, but also with Bill Paxton’s character (Joe), another “nightcrawler” with numerous years in the business, and Riz Ahmed’s character (Rick), a homeless man and former prostitute that he takes on as an employee. It’s with Rick that we really get to see how Lou simply refuses to impose limits to what he will do to get what he wants.