“In order to win the lottery, you’ve got to make the money to buy a ticket” says Lou Bloom in the new thriller “Nightcrawler.”
This line is repeated fanatically by the character throughout the film and is the crux of Bloom’s beliefs and dreams.
Jake Gyllenhaal plays Lou Bloom, a young, extremely motivated and articulate man who wants to become involved in the gruesome world of “stringers”, people who film crimes and accidents and sell the footage to media companies.
Bloom starts the movie committing petty crimes, stealing fences and manhole covers to sell for money. One day, he stops to see an accident and sees a “stringer” videotaping a fiery accident and is immediately intrigued by that line of work. He soon becomes a freelance stringer, buying his own camera and discovering he has a talent for the disturbing work.
Rene Russo plays Nina, a news director who desperately wants to raise her channels ratings. She becomes an enabler for Bloom’s dark side who will desperately try to become a major player in the industry at any cost.
Gyllenhaal plays the perfect role of someone disturbed just as he did years ago in “Donnie Darko.” Gyllenhaal puts on a complete transformation for this role in the movie. He is completely gaunt with eerily tight skin. His eyes are sunken in and are constantly open without blinking as if he’s drunk one too many cups of coffee. The wide-open eyes are perhaps one of the creepiest touches of the movie and are a trademark of his character.
The whole film and character of Lou Bloom are very similar to “American Psycho” and Gyllenhaal’s character is similar to Patrick Bateman. Both characters are textbook psychopaths, displaying no feeling and no remorse for their actions. They’re also both remarkably charismatic so that they can often get whatever they want. Yet one of the main differences between the two films is that Nightcrawler covers the character’s rise, not his fall; an aspect that makes the idea of the film even more creepy.
The whole film is an indictment of the idea of the American dream. Bloom is someone who has completely bought into the idea of the American Dream and wants to become successful at any cost. He constantly educates himself on the internet and seems almost like a life coach at points, spouting out motivational phrases to his assistant. Bloom and Nina are two characters who become consumed by the idea of the American Dream and will cross any moral boundaries to reach their goals.
The movie also condemns the sensationalistic media of today. The phrase “If it bleeds, it leads” mentioned by one of the characters acts as the defining statement of the media’s goals in this movie. The stringers cross moral and legal lines along with any sense of personal privacy in order to get the perfect shot that’ll sell. The film leaves you wondering what kind of system exists that allows someone like Lou Bloom to succeed.
“Nightcrawler” is extremely well-made and has many little touches that contribute to the overall themes and ideas of the movie. Little touches like Lou Bloom obsessively watering his plant every day or putting his hair in a ponytail before he does something illegal, illuminate his psychopathic obsessive behavior.
The music is also very well-done and purposively ironic at times. There is often a motivational almost Disney-like instrumental soundtrack that accompanies Bloom as if he were some great moral figure. The irony of the music is obvious at points like the scene where Gyllenhaal is rearranging a dead body so that it will make for a better camera shot.
Overall, the movie is incredibly entertaining, has intriguing and creepy characters and leaves you wondering about larger questions about society today.