If there is one thing at which Jake Gyllenhaal is great, it is his ability to play emotionally-disturbed characters with ease. He proved this in Donnie Darkko and he does it again in his latest film, Nightcrawler.
Directed by Dan Gilroy in his directorial debut, the crime thriller chronicles the life of Lou Bloom (portrayed by Gyllenhaal) a man living in Los Angeles driven to make a name and living for himself, at any the cost. Seen stealing scrap from a construction site for fast cash, Bloom’s wayward lifestyle comes to a screeching halt when he encounters a bunch of cameramen filming a car wreck.
Inciting a great deal of intrigue on Bloom’s end, he buys a camcorder and radio scanner and begins filming a series of crime related incidents taking place around the Los Angeles area.
It does not take too long for Bloom’s brazen footage to earn the attention of Nina Romina (Rene Russo, Thor), a power-hungry news editor at a failing TV station who offers him his first break into the world of video journalism. Bloom’s footage eventually results in a ratings boost for Nina’s network. However, as Bloom experiences his first taste of success, his propensity for committing acts of malice becomes all-too-clear.
Bloom, along with his assistant Rick, (Riz Ahmed, The Reluctant Fundamentalist) scavenge the streets of Los Angeles for crime, going as far as breaking into a home to film a reported home invasion and filming a dead body. In a separate instance, Lou blackmails Nina into a romantic relationship with him.
In the vein of Taxi Driver’s Travis Bickle, Gyllenhaal’s portrait of a mentally-disturbed sociopath is a stark departure from the comparatively level-headed protagonists we have seen him play as of late in films such as Source Code, End of Watch and Prisoners.
In Nightcrawler, Gyllenhaal’s hair is slicked back, his cheeks are sunken and his frame is emaciated. His performance is compelling and likely to earn much-deserved recognition come Oscar season. The same can be said for Rene Russo, whose show-stealing performance as a relentless news editor should guarantee her a Best Supporting Actress nod.
Nightcrawler showcases these great actors and a compelling story.
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