Nightcrawler: A Film to See

We just returned from seeing the film Nightcrawler starring Jake Gyllenhaal. I can say without qualification that this is a must-see. You don’t have to take my word for it. This film has a 95% approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes, as well.

Jake Gyllenhaal, who lost 30 pounds for this film, is superb in his role as a down-and-out loser who is scrambling for a way to make a living when he stumbles on the nightcrawler game. Night crawlers are freelancer with video cameras who are the first at car wrecks, crime scenes and fires. Gyllenhaal’s rival is played by Bill Paxton and the news producer he sells to is Rene Russo. This is a look into the seedy afterhours world of news in LA and how news stations are always looking for the most sensational coverage to scoop their competition.

Another character in this movie is Los Angeles itself. The filming, which is almost always at night, shows the many areas of the city, each strangely beautiful in the darkness.

Gyllenhaal’s thin face and haunting eyes are reminiscent of a coyote, another night creature who lurks in the shadows waiting for a kill. That is an image that apparently the writer/director Dan Gilroy was operating with all during the film.

On another note, this is quite a family film. Dan Gilroy was the writer-director, his brother, John, was the film editor, another brother was a producer and Rene Russo happens to be Dan Gilroy’s wife. In the ending credits, another Gilroy is also listed as one of the actresses. I suspect that is a sister or a daughter.

This is a disturbing film about obsession, lack of conscience, alienation and power and also a fascinating one. Gyllenhaal’s character is one of the most complicated characters I’ve seen portrayed on film in a long time, and a glimpse into this man’s life is both educational and chilling.

Overall, an excellent film. Go see it if you can. You may emerge shaking your head, but you will not be bored or disappointed.

I can’t believe Gyllenhaal won’t be nominated for an Oscar for this role. He does a superlative job. Rene Russo could easily pick up a nomination for best supporting actor, as well. Their performances carry the film and keep viewers glued to the screen.

An unqualified 5-star recommendation.

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