nightcrawlerNightcrawler centers around the videographers who get to accident / crime scenes, shoot the scene and then sell the footage to news organizations. Kind of like paparazzi for tragedy. The ultra-creepy Louis Bloom (played by Jake Gyllenhaal) decides to get in the game after being rejected for other jobs in his search for work. Bloom finds that he has a skill for the work as he’s willing to cross some morally hazy lines that others aren’t as likely to bypass in order to get more graphic footage than his counterparts. This becomes more evident when, after arriving to an accident scene first, Bloom drags one of the crash victims into a better lit spot so he can get the shot he wants…

The story crafted here is masterfully put together. The dialog created for the Bloom character is especially compelling and well constructed. His demeanor is off-putting: he’s aggressive, direct, and just plain weird. Bloom is not someone you really want to be around or spend time with once you get to know him as he seems ok on the surface but upon further observation, he’s not what he seems initially. The rest of the written characters are your average filler with the spotlight centered on the oddball in the middle of film.

The actors all put in great performances with the standout being Gyllenhaal. His portrayal of the main character is fascinating to watch, he really embodies this guy in a way that makes the hair on your arms stand up while wanting to see what this guy is capable of doing. He tries to be charming but his version of charming seems more like not-so-veiled intimidation. Everything about him seems like there’s something wrong going on behind his eyes somewhere, even when he’s doing simple things like politely asking questions of other characters. Another notable performance comes from Rene Russo who portrays the news director purchasing the morally ambiguous footage, desperate for ratings and to keep her job. She plays the role in a way that shows her character as being strong but as someone who has her own gray areas ethically speaking. Also included in the lineup: Bill Paxton, Michael Papajohn, James Huang, and Leah Fredkin.

Nightcrawler is well directed and stylized. It’s slickly produced and well paced. There are some moments the pacing is slowed so we get to know who’s who and what they’re like but then speeds up again during the scenes when the shooters are arriving to the scenes to capture the drama. Overall, this is a smartly constructed thriller that’s entertaining to watch and worth checking out.

It’s on Netflix!

reviewed by Sean McKnight