By Tim Olsen
“Nightcrawler” is the story of Kurt Wagner, a mutant with a devilish appearance and the ability to teleport between–
Whoops, sorry… wrong character.
“Nightcrawler” is the story of Louis Bloom (Jake Gyllenhaal), a motivated young man in Los Angeles who begins a career in freelance video journalism, sending footage of nighttime crimes to local news stations in a process called “nightcrawling.” After a shaky start, he eventually finds success, but not without having his journalistic integrity questioned.
Gyllenhaal gives a master class performance, somehow managing to be creepy, appealing, disgusting and ridiculously magnetic all at once. He is someone that every fiber of your being cannot stand spending time with, and yet you can’t help but be mesmerized by his slimy demeanor. As he examines his surroundings you want to know what he’s thinking, even though you know it could kill you.
This feeling is present in the entire film. There’s a scene where Louis is showing some graphic footage to a TV news crew, who express concerns of facing legal trouble if they show it. However, what’s being shown is so appealing that they run it anyway, as if it would be a crime to let it go. Like the crew, I felt like I should have turned away while viewing this film, but I was so captivated that I had to keep watching.
Dan Gilroy, who makes his directorial debut with this film, deserves a lot of credit for managing this tone. While most films would switch between multiple tones (or be boring and stick with one), “Nightcrawler” manages to simultaneously convey two completely different feelings that have no reason to be together. And yet, through a miraculous display of directorial ability, it feels as if these feelings should have been together all along.
The film also showcases some gorgeous cinematography, with rich colors and deep shadows that make nighttime Los Angeles look like a dream. I’m going to be really disappointed if the city doesn’t look like this when I get there.
“Nightcrawler” is a contradictory wonder, as repulsive and alluring as its main character. No matter how low your interest may be, you must resist the urge to skip this film; it would be a crime to let it go.