Gyllenhaal stars as Louis Bloom, a reclusive conman who roams the streets of Los Angeles trying to scrape out a living, applying for odd jobs here and there, stealing and occasionally assaulting/robbing people. You know, the usual. After witnessing a fiery accident on the freeway one evening and seeing a pair of opportunistic freelance news videographers record the scene, Bloom finally finds his niche in life. Gyllenhaal’s character is a sociopath who lives alone, despises people and but simultaneously yearns for success and validation. Imagine the Grinch with Asperger’s and a violent streak and you’ll start to see the picture. Nightcrawler does two things and does them both rather well, it showcases the seedy seed of the cutthroat local news scene, and is a fascinating character study unlike anything we’ve seen since Daniel Plainview in There Will Be Blood. Ruthless, greedy, conniving misanthropes who will stop at nothing to achieve their goals, Louis Bloom and Daniel Plainview are veritable peas in a pod, just as Gyllenhaal’s all-encompassing performance is reminiscent of Daniel Day-Lewis’ Oscar winning role.
First time director Dan Gilroy has crafted a wicked character piece about an utterly wicked individual, up there with Taxi Driver and American Psycho. He’s also put together one hell of an ode to Los Angeles. Yes, we’ve got Hollywood in our backyards and all, but very few films seem to capture the LA vibe the way Nightcrawler does [see: Collateral, Training Day, etc]. Gilroy is a longtime screenwriter who also wrote Nightcrawler’s script, and he maneuvers the camera in such way that proves he knows the ins and outs of this story like the back of his hand. There are dozens of knuckle gripping moments in this film, along with a wild chase scene at the end that blows all that overdone Fast And The Furious stuff away, which makes Nightcrawler one of the weirdest and most exciting films of the year. Gyllenhaal’s performance is worth the admission price alone, good thing the rest of the movie is pretty rad itself.