Watching Nightcrawler, as disturbing as it is, is like watch a slow motion car crash; you can’t take your eyes off it. In that sense the film itself is much like the darker uncontrollable side of human nature it tries to illuminate.

A self-absorbed loner, Louis Bloom, roams the deserted nocturnal Los Angeles streets for opportunities to make money from anything he can put his hands on. He is the Travis Bickle of the 21st Century working the sprawling urban West coast. There is nothing he won’t do or place he won’t go to succeed in life.

Louis, (Jake Gyllenhaal), unlike Travis from Taxi Driver (1976), has a gift for corporate gab and is completely self-educated on the home computer. But like Travis Bickle he also has a disdain for people and an obsession for one special woman in the corporate world he desires to be a part of, who may just be as unscrupulous as he is.

With an over-developed sense of purpose and a single-minded focus and drive, he has learned quickly what it takes to be a successful entrepreneur and is fast-tracking himself into the highly competitive world of gathering on-the-scene disaster video footage. 

But Louis is no ordinary Videographer, he is a scavenger, a lean cutthroat hunter of bloody victims of shootings, stabbings and drunk drivers and he gets paid extremely well by the ever ravenous public appetite for tragic and graphic violent stories as they happen.

Tabloid media coverage of violence in the streets is to today’s viewers what the gladiatorial games must have been to Romans, and our appetite for graphic reality is still as strong as ever. 

Tracking police communications from his small used car with camera in hand, we get to see how Louis progresses from naïve amateur to ruthless capitalist. His skills quickly increase along with his ambitions as he learns from the other night crawlers around him and tries to out maneuver them to increase his own value and his video’s desirability. 

Soon he has a television news director, played by Rene Russo, salivating and eating out of his hands. But corporate lingo spouting Louis, who has taken entrepreneurialism to a whole new level, has even bigger plans than she can imagine.

Jake Gyllenhaal is mesmerizing and completely convincing as the creepy amoral Louis Bloom, having lost weight for the role to emulate the desperate coyote-like presence of the character.

As we watch this night urchin break every moral code, we as a society are outraged but at the same time enable him to continue. It’s strange as we try to decide who is worse; the criminal on the street causing pain and suffering, the media manipulation by the broadcasters or the scavenger who lurks unnoticed among us making a living off the misery of others? 

He’s not the kind of person you’d want to know or work for. He lives on the edge of our moral boundaries but at the same time he serves our human desire to see the worst in us during our worst moments. As Louis proudly states with a sincere smile on his face, “I'd like to think that if you’re seeing me, you are having the worst day of your life.”



jacquie said...

Sounds like the sort of movie that's hard to watch, and hard not to! I really have to hand it to these writers who manage to construct such complex characters!

Marquita said...

I've seen the trailer for this movie but your review gave me a much better sense of what the movie is actually about. Sounds fascinating and yet also pretty depressing - it's like you know these people exist but why invite them into your head?

Anna Khan said...

This review has given me much clear idea about the movie. As you are telling that movie is disturbing and its just like keeping in view the bad things about our self.
When ever I watch such movies I think how writers think about such movies or scenes.