Without morals or monsters
THE title makes this first film directed by screenwriter Dan Gilroy sound like a creepy horror movie, and in a sense it is, though the monsters depicted are all too human. The film is, in fact, a critique of the extreme lengths to which the tabloid media — in this case a Los Angeles television station — will go to attract ratings. In this respect it harks back to classic movies such as Network (1976) and Broadcast News (1987), though its true antecedent is Billy Wilder’s savage Ace in the Hole (1951), in which Kirk Douglas’s journalist will stop at nothing to get a sensational story.
The protagonist in Gilroy’s film, the “nightcrawler” of the title, is no journalist, however. Louis Bloom, played with twitchy intensity by Jake Gyllenhaal in one of his best performances, is a scavenger, an opportunist, but a smart one with a capacity of learning quickly how to seize any chance, no matter how unlikely, to get ahead. We first meet Bloom when he’s stealing wire fencing and manhole covers; when he attempts to sell them to a shady builder, he also asks about a job, assuring the man he’s a hard worker who sets himself high goals. “I’m not hiring a thief,” is the sensible response.
But setbacks such as this don’t deter Bloom, and when by chance he sees a freelance cameraman (Bill Paxton) at work, a new world opens up to him. He acquires a cheap camera and a Nightcrawler (MA15+) National release A Thousand Times Good Night (M) Limited release Jimmy’s Hall (M) Limited release
A Thousand Times Good Night; Nightcrawler;
From above, Nikolaj CosterWaldau and Juliette Binoche in Jake Gyllenhaal and Rene Russo in the heartfelt but simplistic