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Nightcrawler

Jake Gyllenhaal plays Lou Bloom, a slick thief who is looking for a job and seems to manage to make money (mostly illegally) as he needs it. One night, he happens on the scene of an accident and learns that people make good money by being first at crime and accident scenes to film them and then sell the footage to the news stations (nightcrawlers). The rest of the movie is about Lou Bloom’s journey as a nightcrawler. The movie struck me as a contemporary cross between the films Network (and its depiction of the supreme focus on news ratings and its consequences) and Wall Street (where power, money, and greed prevail over ethics). While the message of Nightcrawler does not succeed as well as it did in Network, the reason to see this movie is Gyllenhaal; he has had a number of wonderful roles, but this has to be his best and most intense to date. He plays Lou as a guy who is at the same time funny, oddly awkward socially, and extremely despicable. One minute he is rattling off a fairly sophisticated sound bite regarding being successful in business, and the next you realize that he is using his knowledge in a completely amoral way. The scenes with him and his “intern” Rick were great because they made me feel very uncomfortable, almost angry. I could not take my eyes off Gyllenhaal during the entire movie – he is skinny and looks like a guy who has had about 6 pots of coffee, hasn’t slept in days, and is running on pure adrenaline. In a word, his character is just plain creepy. He draws you into him and also draws out a number of different and conflicting emotions in the viewer; how great is that? Big thumbs up, not as much for the story (which is good) as for Gyllenhaal’s over the top (and I think Oscar-worthy) performance.(2014; 4 Stars)

About Gary Burkholder

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