Culture, Film

Review: Nightcrawler (2014)

Nightcrawler movie posterJake Ghyllenhaal (Source Code, Prince of Persia) stars in and produces this queasy thriller of a nocturnal LA news reporter chasing the ambulances in search of ratings.

Opening with Ghyllenhaal’s Louise Bloom trying to fence metals stolen with violence and trying to talk himself into a job, we already know that his immensely polite and wide-eyed openness is a thin veneer; Bloom is a unique and distinctive anti-hero.

Speaking fluently in the language of teach-yourself-business books and self-help courses, Bloom flagrantly manipulates everyone around him in single-minded pursuit of the American Dream.
Blundering into a career as a freelance night reporter, Bloom recruits down-and-out Rick (Riz Ahmed) as navigator and lookout. By sheer determination, Bloom starts selling news footage to a local station.

With no background in journalism, and no qualms over ethics or legality, Bloom doesn’t cross any moral or ethical lines because he doesn’t recognise them. He has no moral compass, only the negotiating skills of the free market.

He will, without hesitation, stoop to rearranging the bodies to frame a better shot; film the dead and dying in closeup, withold evidence from the police, and when rival veteran news reporter Loder (Bill Paxton – Hatfeilds and McCoys) scoops him, Bloom even stoops to sabotage.

Able to spout endless management theory about personal development and negotiating tactics, Bloom is a monster; if not an American Psycho, then a genuine American sociopath content to use everyone around him.

His treatment of station news editor Nina (Rene Russo – Thor, Thomas Crown Affair) is coldly calculating and still shocking, a new depth of callousness that tips over beyond exploitation into abuse.

Driven byond recklessness, prepared to get himself and other people killed in pursuit of his own American Dream, Bloom is as unhinged as Taxi Driver‘s Travis Bickle or King of Comedy‘s Rupert Pupkin; as morally bankrupt as Wolf of Wall Street‘s Jordan Belfort or There Will Be Blood‘s Daniel Plainview. Bloom has just the kind of ambition of the tycoons who built America, scrambling over the bodies of the victims and the down-trodden.

This is entirely Ghyllenhaal’s movie, ably supported by Ahmed, Russo and Paxton; all of whose characters come to realise they are dancing with the devil far, far too late. RC

Nightcrawler (2014)
Director: Dan Gilroy
Writer: Dan Gilroy
Certification: R/18
Genre: Thriller, drama
Running time: 1 hr. 57 min.
Cast: Jake Ghyllenhaal, Rene Russo, Riz Ahmed, Bill Paxton

About Robin Catling

Robin Catling gained degrees in both arts and technology which led to a diverse portfolio of employment. A freelance systems analyst, project manager and business change manager for the likes of American Express, British Airways and IBM, he moved on to web design, journalism and technical authoring. He has also worked in film and television, both behind and in front of the camera, including productions by Steven Spielberg, Martin Scorcese, Ron Howard and Ridley Scott. A qualified three-weapon coach, he runs West Devon Swords teaching sports fencing to all age groups, and in recent years qualified with the British Federation of Historical Swordplay to teach medieval and renaissance combat in the Historical Western Martial Arts.


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