Held-up by an incredible performance from Jake Gyllenhaal, ‘Nightcrawler’ is a visually beautiful and very tense thriller from director Dan Gilroy (Roman J. Israel Esq, Velvet Buzzsaw), focusing on the dangerous life of a freelance journalist who ends-up falling deeper and deeper into a world of greed and accomplishment. Gripping from start-to-finish (as well as being one of my personal all-time favourite films), ‘Nightcrawler’ truly ends-up being an amazing experience any film fan is sure to enjoy.
Plot Summary: When ‘Louis Bloom,’ a con-man desperate for work, muscles his way into the world of Los Angeles crime journalism, he blurs the line between observer and participant to become the star of his own story, determined to rise to the top regardless of competition, or even morals…
Being shot over the course of twenty-eight nights. The film does a brilliant job of blending a narrative of what the life for a freelance journalist is actually like, as well as focusing on the more personal story of: ‘Louis’ at the same time, with both of them fitting the dark tone of the film extremely well. This alongside the exploration of the city of Los Angeles gives the film a great personality, as the film explores every seedy corner of the city, always using real locations over any visual effects, unlike many other films nowadays.
Jake Gyllenhaal also gives one of the best performances of his career here, coming-off as a creepy, sly and selfish character who excels at his work, yet despite being mostly unlikable. He still manages to be an engaging protagonist mostly through his charisma and intelligence, even as he descends further and further down the line. Gyllenhaal even went to the extent of losing over twenty-pounds for the role, which was actually Gyllenhaal’s own idea, as he visualised ‘Lou’ as a hungry coyote. Riz Ahmed also appears in the film as ‘Rick,’, ‘Louis’ underpaid and underappreciated partner who serves as almost his complete opposite in many different ways. These two alongside the supporting cast of Rene Russolate and the late Bill Paxton are all brilliant throughout the film, never failing to impress within their respective roles.
The cinematography by Robert Elswit is some of the best cinematography I’ve seen in a film in a long-time, utilising an enormous amount of varied shots, including a large amount of wide and mid shots, which are always a joy to see, with the film always using its cinematography to increase the amount of tension or drama that’s on-screen. The film also makes great use of it’s dark blue and orange colour palette as well as large amounts of street lighting, which both definitely help give the film a distinct visual flair and make many of the bright colours stand-out amongst the darkness of Los Angeles at night.
This is also backed-up by the calming and yet also eerie original score by James Newton Howard, and while perhaps not incredibly memorable on itself, I do like this composer for much of his previous work (The Sixth Sense, King Kong, I Am Legend) and the soundtrack here does back-up the film pretty well for the majority of its runtime, aside from the occasional track which can come-off as slightly cliché.
Another element of the film I really enjoy is it’s grasp on realism, as although I’m no expert in regards to the world of crime journalism. The film never really seems to go beyond believability within its story, even when the story begins to enter more dangerous territory for its characters. One element of the film that didn’t really exceed my expectations however, was the film’s editing. As although the editing throughout the film is decent, I was never overly impressed by it, as I always felt it was one of the few areas of the film which could’ve been slightly improved.
In conclusion, ‘Nightcrawler’ still retains it’s spot on my list of favourites, with its outstanding cinematography in addition to the pretty fantastic original score and performances throughout. The film has a lot to offer, and I’m still thrilled the film came out as well as I did. As due to both its filmmaking and it’s appeal, I’d absolutely recommend anyone give ‘Nightcrawler’ a watch. Final Rating: 9/10.