One movie I missed seeing in theaters is Nightcrawler starring Jake Gyllenhaal. The film follows an anti-hero from petty theft to the exploitation of crime and the media. Jake Gyllenhaal and Rene Russo in Nightcrawler
First of all, Jake Gyllenhaal is creepy and 100% unlike-able. I’d say even worse then Draco Malfoy. Nobody could identify with the lead character in Nightcrawler unless you are narcissistic, anti-social, sociopathic, or some combination of the former.
What’s more is that the film has elements that feel realistic and plausible. Lines like “if it bleeds, it leads” or discussions about ratings and blood seem like accurate portrayals of how the media chooses to present the news. The obvious theme is a criticism of the daily news broadcast that knows their ratings are tied to stories about crime creeping into white suburban neighborhoods (they actually say that in the movie, I’m not over-analyzing).
But this film does so much more than that. The cimeotagrphy does an amazing job of adding suspense and choosing shots that add art and cultural critiques to the film.
Early on, we see a large billboard that boldly states focus at a critical time when the main character begins to focus on filming crime scenes. Include iconic shots of a Los Angeles and you’ve got some great background for characters to develop.
We see a character without formal education but unlimited internet access obtain a career and lots of fast cash. With the cost of higher education on the rise, self-taught internet savy people are skipping the books, but education can be used to obtain evil means. While the money being made isn’t necessarily stated, a red sports car does plenty to establish his success.
Gyllenhaal looks hungry with a skinny face that rarely blinks but can be found never sleeping or looking at peace. This is the type of film you can get lost in because no average viewer will identify with the main character. He spends the entire film going against normal human instincts and morals. You cringe at the thought of not sleeping and eating until you give off vibes like this character. This could even be a throwback to Christian Bale in the Machinist because of the physical contours of the actor’s body, the lack of sleeping, and the questionable mental health.
The ending is built up but predictable. As the viewer, you are lead down a simple path, and the only surprise is that the main character actually goes as far as we expected. I’ve decided to leave out spoilers, but even though I say its predictable, that doesn’t mean it isn’t a great ending.
Sometimes Hollywood tries too hard with twisted and unpredictable endings. In this film, there is no
doubt in the viewers mind that something bad is going to happen and not to the bad guy. We know that the endgame is going to continue a dark path of loose morals. There was more to like in Dexter Morgan of Dexter (played by Michael C. Hall). There was more to like in the Wicked Witch of the West in Wizard of Oz (just goes to show that anything can be related back to Wizard of Oz).
If you like a good anti-hero character that only develops new tactics to being a bad guy, Nightcrawler is a film to watch. Just don’t expect to watch the news anytime that week. Be like everyone else and use Twitter to read headlines.