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1. a person with a psychopathic personality whose behavior is antisocial, often criminal, and who lacks a sense of moral responsibility or social conscience.
Cha-fucking-ching. What is on display during the entire two hour run time of Dan Gilroy’s debut film? Oh, just the complete and utter definition of the word sociopath. Gilroy, who has written such films as The Fall, The Bourne Legacy, and everyone’s favorite robot boxing film Real Steel, gives us a look at a perfect sociopath. Cinema has given us plenty of good examples of sociopathic tendencies before. Christian Bale played a sleazy one in Very Bad Things. We have Michael Douglas’s Gordon Gecko, Nurse Ratched from Cookoo’s Nest, and Patrick Bateman from American Psycho. None of which can really hold a candle to what Jake Gyllenhaal brings to the table with his character of Louis Bloom. He is the pure definition of somebody who is unapologetic, selfish, wickedly intelligent, and completely lacking of any emotion whatsoever. The fact that he is also batshit insane also helps his case.
The film features Gyllenhaal in almost every scene. He is the one running the show. His character runs the show even though when we first see him, he has a camera bought at a thrift store and is driving what looks like to be a Dodge Dart Hatchback clone from hell. He is jobless and desperate. He tries to get a job anywhere he can, spouting off motivational phrases he read on the internet. He believes in himself. he believes he can get the job done. When he randomly stumbles across a car accident and sees that there are freelance videographers lapping at the chance to score some footage, Lou figures out he’d be perfect for this job. He obviously doesn’t sleep. The film makes it very clear with some gorgeous transitional shots that Lou is not a man of the daytime. He wakes at dusk and probably sleeps at dawn, although I wouldn’t be surprised that the man was functioning on some serious sleep deprivation. Lou starts getting some decent footage and the ball begins to roll into crazy town.
This is a wild ride. The trailer definitely portrays this film as a thriller and it lived up to it. There are plenty of great action scenes that build and sustain tension. The the craziness of Lou, the film really starts to get rolling towards the middle, culminating with a pretty tense and wild finish. The focus for me though, was the satire. This is a funny film. We have Lou and the news station he is dealing with throwing decency and morals to the wind in order to boost ratings and make money. Like earlier this fall with Gone Girl, Nightcrawler takes aim at how media, paparazzi, and general entertainment culture is killing what makes us human. Most of us I would say have compassion towards others. The film deals directly with true real life scenarios such as how every time I turn on the fucking news I’m being told about the death of somebody in the community. It’s no longer news. It’s reminders of how horrible the world can be and how careful we need to be in it. There’s a particular scene, the most uncomfortable scene in the movie, where Jake Gyllenhaal enters a crime scene and sells the footage to the news station. The on air reporters go through every single detail, on air, and describe the shit they shouldn’t be showing in the first place. Is it satire? Yes. No real news station would show the things they showed, but is it really any different than say showing the aftermath of a shooting in Queens? How bout we interview the grieving family of the 16 year old gunshot victim? It may be satire, but it’s on point. The media sucks.
It wasn’t flawless. I had issues with the end. It wasn’t that the film ended on a bad note or on a particular high note. It really just ended on no note at all. I don’t need my films to be tied up in a bow but the film just kinda of left some things unresolved and then ended abruptly. We had a climactic confrontation that led to credits. There was also some forced themes in one of the big scenes at the end that were just not needed. I don’t need to be told that Jake Gyllenhaal is a crazy lunatic. I’ve just watched him be that for two hours. These things didn’t ruin the film or anything like that. They are minor. They are however slight blemishes on what was a very entertaining and stylish film.
I haven’t gotten to the highlight though. Jake Gyllenhaal. The dude fucking killed it. He’s been killing it pretty recently (Prisoners and Enemy) but this was just the huge loony bin cherry on top. He lost 20 pounds for the role and really seemed to dive into the character. Lou has this weird personality where everything he says rolls off his tongue like some crazy motivational speaker. He is in control at every moment. There was one small nuance, where he meets Rick for the first time, where even though Lou is in no position of authority, completely sells the fact that he is running an up and coming business. He even corrects Rick to call him Louis even though he introduces himself as Lou to everybody else. Rick is his employee and he’s going to do whatever he says to ensure he accomplishes his goals. Gyllenhaal was able to make his face contort into that of a completely out of contact with reality psycho. His eyes bulge and rarely blink. He smiles at the peak of his manipulation to drive home what he wants. He is methodical in his logic, even when it comes off with zero compassion for the other person. As stated above, he is a complete sociopath, and he should be heavily considered for major awards once the season begins.
Dan Gilroy’s debut film is a hit. People are going to squirm, laugh, and disbelieve what they see because in reality, this couldn’t happen. Or could it? Could Lou really exist in this world? Yes. You just haven’t met him yet. You have however, probably watched his work on live television. Lou lives on in the daily meatgrind of shit that is passed off as news. Those photos of Jennifer Lawrence that leaked on the internet? That was Lou. That camera guy that Alec Baldwin punched in the face? That was Lou. Lou is an entire society of people wanted to exploit the worst days of everybody else. There is a perfect line near the end of the film that sums up the entire point of the film…
“If you see my face, you’re probably having the worst day of your life.”
Man, this might be too cynical for some. I had a shiver running down my back several times.
"How much of this can we show?"
- "You mean .. legally?"
"No, morally. Of course legally."
An enjoyable film with a creepy lead character that keeps getting darker & more immoral throughout.
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