Overall Grade: (A+)
A dark, gritty crime-drama with a unique theme and a great story-line to compliment an exceptionally eerie performance by Jake Gyllenhaal.
Lou Bloom (Gyllenhaal) is motivated, determined, intelligent and ironically, desperate for work. One night while Bloom is out stealing materials to try and sell to a construction site foreman he comes across a car accident. He is captivated by the cameraman who swiftly arrive on the scene to video the entire thing for TV news.
At that moment Bloom finds his passion, working as a ‘nightcrawler’ roaming the L.A. streets to be first on the scene to video whatever crime or accident takes place. Bloom’s unending motivation pushes his actions too far and his clouded judgment will cause him to straddle the line of criminal activity and innocent bystander.
I went into this film with an open mind, knowing very little about it other than the general premise. Wasn’t sure whether to expect a crime-drama or a thrilling tale filled with action. To my pleasure it was somewhere in the middle huddling around the realm of gritty crime-drama. The story-line was great and built moments of great suspense in a subtle fashion. The cast was small and it was perfect for this story as the minimal character count allows a real connection to the players involved.
Jake Gyllenhaal was fantastic and delivered a performance that easily carried the entire film. From his odd appearance, thought provoking expressions and mannerisms to the casual and at times robotic approach he took to much of the dialogue – he was excellent. Yes there was some very good material for him to work with but it was clear that he embraced the role and made it truly his own. Despite clearly not being what you could call a ‘traditional protagonist’ there was still so much intrigue built that you are left highly interested in his outcome, although you may not be rooting for his success.
Rene Russo was also great, her chemistry with Gyllenhaal was superb and watching their back-and-forth’s as she sits in bewilderment at the cunning and calculating character of Bloom is nothing short of enjoyable. The eerie and odd way Gyllenhaal’s character manipulates his way through many situations in the film are a fresh feel from the common character. He displays an extremely high level of book smarts but seems to lack much knowledge in the area of social intelligence and definitely political correctness.
This is what you may be lead to think but other times in the film you may wonder if he is just purely insane. You can see it in the expressions from Russo on many occasions and it definitely makes for some entertaining cinema. The script does a great job of weaving the current state of the business they are in and the lack of options Russo’s character has as Bloom asserts his leverage over her with ease. There was much more to their relationship then given to you on the screen, with many scenarios being assumed by the viewer after being set-up through their dialogue which does lead you to think.
The pace is on the slow side but you can see the methodical approach to how this one is told which still results in a good flow to the story-line. Everything sets up a great third-act climax with some pulse-pounding moments and a very intense car chase that was perfectly captured with great camerawork. There is also a lot for the eye to take in during this compelling crime-drama with great locations set as backdrops to many scenes.
Reminiscent to “Collateral” back in 2004 the city is captured with a trained eye and lighting and times of day cast the city in an unfamiliar tone on many occasions. The city feels seedy, dark and alive with grim activity as the common public sleeps, and it serves as dreary compliment to the premise of the script.
I highly recommend this to pretty much anyone of proper age. It is filled with razor sharp dialogue, tense moments and excellent performances from the cast to make up a fantastically entertaining crime-drama. As if this wasn’t enough, the premise feels fresh and creative and most important different from most, something that is not easy to pull off, but awesome when it can be done, like this film managed to do.