Julian's Judgment: Nightcrawler

The Movie Summary:

Nightcrawler (2014), a neo-noir crime thriller written and directed by Dan Gilroy in his director debut, stars Jake Gyllenhaal and a few other people (Rene Russo, Riz Ahmed, and Bill Paxton).

I don't want to spoil the movie by giving away too much of a synopsis, as I went into this movie completely surprised about the subject matter - for the best!

The Judgment:

Like most neo-noirs, Nightcrawler takes a twist on the noir/thriller genre so modern audiences can enjoy something different from the usual bag of tricks. Story wise, the movie surprised me. I assumed by the movie poster this would be a Drive rip-off, but Nightcrawler explores its own story and subject matter with sadistic delight. Where Drive has a loose narrative and artsy feel, Nightcrawler is more narrative driven and visually straightforward approach.

Technically speaking, most of the film takes place during the night, similar to Collateral, which poses lighting and view-ability challenges (I bring this up because for some reason, the night sequences in Tusk were barely visible on screen). The visually appealing 'look' coupled with well developed characters and enticing story can pay off at the box office (which it did, at moderately slim budget of ~8.5 million, Nightcrawler made ~40 million).

Throughout the second half I couldn't figure out the plot's direction (in a good way!) and felt exceedingly disturbed during the movie's last act (also in a good way!).

Why Jake Gyllenhaal Made This Movie Great:

Gyllenhaal plays psychopathic Lou Bloom with an amazing performance similar in magnitude to his work in Prisoners, Zodiac and Jarhead. Bloom always appears plotting, conniving and downright deceitful as he makes his way to the top of his field. Watching Gyllenhaal put his all into this character demonstrates how passionate he is for this film. To prepare for Bloom, Gyllenhaal states in an interview I watched that he purposely stayed awake late into the night to develop his 'wolf' like persona, and immerse himself into the seedy nighttime of L.A's concrete jungle. The supporting cast does great as well, with Russo's morally ambiguity, Ahmed's desperate need for self-preservation, and Paxton's competitive nature which inadvertently motivates Gyllenhaal's character to reach the top of his craft.

The Negatives:

The soundtrack was the only let down leaving more to be desired (compared to Drive), but it's a minor issue that doesn't subtract from the overall atmosphere created by the rest of the movie.

Last Words:

If you're not into dark-crime-thriller-dramas than you probably won't like how this makes you feel. After the film ended, several questions popped into my mind about the events and choices by Gyllenhaal's character, a rare movie that has you think a little even after it finishes - wow!

Now go watch Nightcrawler and formulate your own opinion.

Grade: A

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