Jake Gyllenhaal is one of the best actors around at the moment and likes to change it up and take risks with the parts he plays. In Nightcrawler he has returned to the weird and creepy persona not too unlike Anthony Perkins in Psycho. Has he played a mass murderer yet? I think he most definitely could. He’ll make you cringe in this film for sure as he plays a very creepy and an emotionally detached guy who is very robotic and most definitely career motivated no matter what the costs are to those around him.
I have never heard of Nightcrawlers before and I’m not sure if it’s an actual term or a name the writer thought was a fit to the role. Nightcrawler are people that take amateur footage of crime scenes and sell them to the news. This being the case they need the most juicy story, with lots of blood and carnage for the news corporations to pay top dollar. They make huge amounts of money out of other people’s misery. This is why Louis, Gyllenhaals character is the perfect man for the job because he is completely emotionally detached, nothing phases him and nothing gets in the way of a good story.
To be a Nightcrawler all you need is a camera and to know what crimes are going on and a fast car helps. Louis has a radio to pick police frequency so he knows what is going on and where? He may even get there before the police do, making the footage hot property. He also needs someone to sell the story to and this is where Rene Russo’s character comes in as TV news veteran who can take on a story. She works for a less attractive news company and needs all the ratings she can get. This brings pressure, which means she is prepared to push the boundaries of morality and taste to get to where she wants to be. High ratings keep her in a job and Louis brings this on a regular basis meaning he starts to gain control of her career and can drop it down the toilet if and when he chooses. He needs a partner who needs money and will therefore do the job for peanuts. Rick is motivated by money only and although he disagrees with certain aspects of the job and is scared about how far Louis will go, the waving of the dollar sign soon switches the conscience off. There is also the competition between Louis and Bill Paxtons character Joe who soon feels the harsh reality of a man possessed by his work and eventually becomes the subject.
This is one of the best films of the year and is a completely original concept. That’s is hard to come by these days where film is often about money and franchise. Gyllenhaal is perfect in the role and the weight loss showed a real commitment and added to the creepiness. Why do thin people look so creepy? I think in this case it’s the thought that the obsession to create film takes over the need to eat. The rest of the cast are vital and all have their own motivations and are extreme in the ways they are willing to get where they want. There are no lines that can’t be crossed and no limit to the distance they can be crossed by. This leads to death, which in some cases is a result of their work. I would definitely recommend this film and I would put Gyllenhaal in the Oscar bracket for this film.