4/5 MUST must see SEE
dir-scr Dan Gilroy
prd Tony Gilroy, Jake Gyllenhaal, Jennifer Fox, David Lancaster, Michel Litvak
with Jake Gyllenhaal, Rene Russo, Riz Ahmed, Bill Paxton, Ann Cusack, Kevin Rahm, Michael Hyatt, Kathleen York, Viviana Chavez, Chad Guerrero, James Huang, Dig Wayne
release US/UK 31.Oct.14
14/US 1h57
Looking for a scoop: Gyllenhaal

russo ahmed paxton
R E V I E W    B Y    R I C H    C L I N E
Nightcrawler A seriously chilling trip into the underbelly of local TV journalism, this film is so pitch-black that most audience members will hardly notice that it's actually a grim comedy. Anchored by a strikingly committed performance from Gyllenhaal, the film is deeply, darkly disturbing in all the right ways.

Lou Bloom (Gyllenhaal) is an ambitious guy willing to break rules to get ahead. When he meets a video news stringer (Paxton), Lou decides that this might work, so he gets a camera and a police scanner and starts to film car crashes, house fires and crime scenes, selling the footage to TV news director Nina (Russo). Now working on a regular basis, he hires Rick (Ahmed) as an assistant and gets even more aggressive about arriving on the spot sooner than his competition. To the point where he starts manipulating the situations himself.

Essentially this is a film about the complete lack of morality needed to make it in today's cutthroat marketplace, where the more gruesome the coverage the higher the ratings. So is it any surprise that perhaps some of this footage is gained in horrifically unethical ways? Not that Lou would know an ethic from a hole in the ground. Gyllenhaal plays the character as relentlessly amoral. He looks creepy but talks a good game, then resorts to threats if you dare to question him. Watching him turn on people around him is almost as terrifying as his refusal to abide by principles of human decency.

Of course, the more Lou reveals his intentions the easier it gets to predict where this film is heading, but writer-director Gilroy has plenty of surprises in store, deploying a wonderfully insinuating style of filmmaking that playfully leaves key scenes to the imagination. It also helps that Russo and Ahmed provide superb support as relatively decent people caught up in Lou's web. As the intensity cranks up, they're the ones we care about.

Gilroy directs with confident skill, refusing to indulge in the usual action-thriller mechanics while still building maximum suspense in each set-piece, from a gruesome tour of a murder scene to a nerve-rattling car chase. It also helps that the film has a dual layer of humour, with some broadly witty dialog undercutting the script's darker drama as well as the sense of morbid humour that infuses everything on-screen. And in Gyllenhaal's sunken eyes, the film finds both its cold heart and true terror.

cert 15 themes, language, violence 30.Sep.14

R E A D E R   R E V I E W S
send your review to Shadows... Nightcrawler Kallie Wilbourn, Las Vegas, New Mexico: 4.5/5Nightcrawler joins my list of excellent L.A. movies. This is not to say that there aren't good L.A. films with real and likable characters, but Nightcrawler uses the city's landscape to other, allegorical effects. Lou is a soulless robot who exhibits just enough fascinating human tics to sell himself. He's a perfect servant and likely future master in the "disaster capitalism" corporate media -- which is all about profiting from humans' worst, rubbernecking qualities. Jake Gyllenhaal's huge eyes, long thin mouth and creepy postural and facial lapses brilliantly animate this character. No one else could have played Donnie Darko and the Zodiac-obsessed Robert Graysmith half so well, but as Lou, Gyllenhaal crosses the void and takes us with him. (18.Jul.15)
© 2014 by Rich Cline, Shadows on the Wall