Jake Gyllenhaal plays Louis in “Nightcrawler,” a man who lives in a small apartment in Los Angeles and appears to just drift through life, staying up all night and working in whatever jobs he can get. One night while looking for a way to make some money, he comes across a horrific accident and sees a van full of photographers go to the scene and shoot video.
The event gives him the idea to try this himself and sell his videos to a news station. There are moments very early on, though, that show that Louis isn’t just an ambitious young man, he is a mentally unstable person and will stop at nothing for a good video to make the morning news.
Make that two years in a row now that Gyllenhaal has captured my attention in a great movie. First “Prisoners” in 2013 and now “Nightcrawler.” The praise can’t just go to Gyllenhaal, though, as this was a collaborative effort where everyone brought their A game.
Starting off, the filmmakers made the movie very well paced. Every night that Louis went out, the stakes were raised, and an audience will be on the edge of their seats to see just what Louis has in store for the next night.
While being a gripping thriller, the movie is also a study on both an interesting, unsettling character and a commentary on what is shown in today’s TV news. The film sheds light on the hustle and bustle of that world and just how wild it can be, especially in a city like L.A.
The story elements work so well with the casting of Gyllenhaal, he elevates so much of the material with his brilliant, award-worthy, performance. Gyllenhaal gives the character Louis a great creepy atmosphere which sets the tone for the film.
While watching his performance, I was constantly reminded of Anthony Perkins as Norman Bates in Alfred Hitchcock’s “Psycho.” His facial expressions alone give a feeling of tension and can make an audience feel worried about the other characters that may be on screen.
The supporting cast was also strong. Rene Russo gives a good performance as Nina, the no nonsense TV news director who chooses ratings over journalistic ethics and Bill Paxton is solid as a fellow late night video photographer.
The film was also shot very well, putting a viewer right into the action on screen.
When the characters are wandering in the dark of night, the atmosphere is set and the adrenaline can be felt when something comes across the police scanner.
“Nightcrawler” is a great thriller which includes an interesting central character, good social commentary and a fantastic atmosphere that is sure to give chills. 5 out of 5.