Review: “Nightcrawler” is Comedically Wicked

Dan Gilroy’s passion for crime and thrill often find their place in his works but his most notable film “Nightcrawler” wins the gold medal for dark comedy. The 2014 film paints a nasty picture of the news business while following a loner with sociopath tendencies who will stop at nothing to get what he wants. 

Photo courtesy of nofilmschool.com

The movie begins by showcasing the main character, Louis Bloom (Lou), as a desperate scavenger in search for work. Lou fortuitously stumbles into the career of crime journalism, and rather than slowly familiarizing himself with the field, he throttles into the job at full force. Starting with just a camcorder, a police scanner and a trusty sidekick, Lou manipulates his way to success. 

While Jake Gyllenhaal has played a variety of different characters in Hollywood, it’s unquestionable that he was not out of his element in his role of Lou Bloom. Gyllenhaal successfully brought to life the common sociopathic charm we often see both in other films and in real life. Similar to “Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil and Vile,” Lou has something akin to the likable spirit of Ted Bundy. While he is not a serial killer, Lou would go as far as needed in order to get the best shot for the greatest reward — whether it be through manipulation, taking advantage of others, inciting crime or even withholding information in a crime investigation. 

Lou is a primary example of someone who is willing to do anything to people who get in his way. His selfishness leads to barbarous acts against other characters along the way. Undeniably, the character is a go-getter but his faults lie in the fact that he views tragedy as monetary gain. This perspective makes the viewer wonder if this is a common theme throughout the real world of journalism as well. 

Photo courtesy of escapistmagazine.com

What’s interesting about this film is that it cannot be simplified to one particular genre or mood. The story is dark with a satirical twist, unveiling both comedic and thriller elements and therefore cannot be limited to one or the other. While it follows Lou’s journey to reach fame through exploitation, there are drops of humor weaved throughout many scenes. Lou’s detached personality is almost too difficult not to laugh at. In fact, he offers a reasoning behind his disposition when he says “What if I were to say that it’s not that I don’t understand people, but that I don’t like them?”

Lou, along with the other crime journalists, come alive as soon as nightfall hits the streets of Los Angeles. In search of gory incidents to report on, every police siren equals an opportunity to make money. Not only does he prey on the vulnerability of others to move upward in the field, but he refuses to take no for an answer — a type of ambition that may be commendable but in this case is rather deplorable. His actions are self-seeking but in a way that grasps the viewers’ desire to find out the outcome of each step he takes. 

While the film depicts the often sad reality of TV networks and their biggest concern being of ratings, it is the ambition and boldness of Lou that stands out the most. Sure, Lou definitely crosses the line of ambition, but his motivation for success is somewhat admirable. 

The film represents a great deal of both personal and corporate corruption. From the lack of emotion towards victims to the lengths journalists will go to in order to be triumphant, “Nightcrawler” conveys it all in a chilling fashion. Not to mention the quality of acting in this movie is outstanding, as the viewer is almost inclined to feel compassion towards even the characters who are doing wrong. Overall, the film effectively executed the harsh reality of a possible path to success. 

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