Jake Gyllenhaal has a face that suits ‘crazy’. By no means does his unsettling character mark cinema’s next Clockwork Orange/Taxi Driver/American Psychopath protagonist, perhaps because his heartless attitude towards US crime journalism is nothing new – just turn on Fox News.
His character, Lou Bloom, rings more familiar with Scarlett Johansson’s Under the Skin alien brute. It’s as if a bunch of data and pixels figured out how to assemble themselves as a human body and thus spawned this walking Business Studies textbook, spouting clichéd half-jargon with the swagger of a (more) sociopathic Apprentice contestant.
Most of the crap that comes out of his mouth sounds like those video pop-ups that interrupt your illegal movie streaming – “I didn’t think it was possible to make this much $$$, then I started understanding the power of believing in the sermons of my own anus”. Honestly. If WebMD did business diplomas…
Robert Elswit unsurprisingly excels as director of photography, perfecting the look of this neon moral apocalypse that is the gory, hyper younger sibling of 1976’s Network.
Kavinsky wouldn’t be out of place soundtracking the haunting night-time LA roads, but James Newton Howard does a great job at setting the scene of Lou’s detached, irreverent mind, often sounding other-worldly.
His grey morality takes him far; he wins all the showdowns with other characters in the film, most of the time quite unsubtly. Goes to show that (as we’ve seen recently…) outright obstinacy will take you far, purely because by arguing with reason means you’ve lost from the start.
Most of his contenders back down out of sheer confusion and fear, which Lou refers to as standing for “False Evidence Appearing Real”. Very nice – this comment perfectly describes the darkness and comedy that forms the twisted flax backbone of this unsettling film.
I wonder why then, like Rene Russo’s character, I find him quite inspiring.
His failure at being hired in a more conventional role early on in the film means he forges his own path, makes his own rules and throws himself full throttle at it – the kind of behaviour lauded in today’s job market.
The film’s close seems to put emphasis of the ephemerality of it all; despite Lou’s mapped out career path and clear goals, you get the sense he is just winging it day by day, a freelance psychopath.
Nightcrawler is a gruesome visualisation of modern day ambition, in all its crass morbidity.