Rajeev Masand – movies that matter : from bollywood, hollywood and everywhere else

November 7, 2014

Creep alert!

Filed under: Their Films — Rajeev @ 8:35 pm

November 07, 2014

Cast: Jake Gyllenhaal, Rene Russo, Riz Ahmed, Bill Paxton

Director: Dan Gilroy

There’s a creepy, spine-chilling intensity to Jake Gyllenhaal’s performance in Nightcrawler that’s hard to shake off even hours after you’ve watched the film. Literally transforming himself physically to look bug-eyed, pale, and wiry thin Gyllenhaal becomes Louis Bloom, an awkward but ambitious drifter with no moral compass to speak of.

Driving around the neon-soaked streets of Los Angeles, Lou stumbles across a bloody road accident and watches transfixed as a TV news crew feeds off the carnage. Before you know it, he’s got hold of a camera and a police radio and he’s trawling the city in the dead of the night, seeking out gruesome crime scenes whose footage he sells to Nina (Rene Russo), a producer at a local TV news station.

The film really takes a terrific turn for the unexpected when Lou finds himself at crime sites before the police has shown up. Writer-director Dan Gilroy raises important questions about professional ethics and basic human decency even as the behavior of our utterly amoral but ruthlessly driven anti-hero becomes increasingly twisted and unforgivable. It is to Gyllenhaal’s credit that Lou remains weirdly magnetic even when he’s plumbing the lowest depths of depravity.

American critics have compared Gyllenhaal’s character to iconic screen sociopaths, particularly Travis Bickle from Taxi Driver, but Nightcrawler possesses neither the subtlety nor the delicious complexity of Martin Scorsese’s masterpiece. The film works best as a slick suspenseful thriller, although it’s clearly fashioned as a biting commentary on the inherent cynicism and inhumanity prevalent in the American local-TV news business, as personified by Russo’s conscience-free cutthroat producer.

There’s a nice turn from Riz Ahmed as a young homeless man who becomes Lou’s ‘intern’, and Bill Paxton as a rival cameraman. But this is Gyllenhaal’s show, and he steals it with a cold, unsettling portrayal of a modern day monster. I’m going with three-and-a-half out of five for Nightcrawler. For his performance alone, this film deserves to be watched.

(This review first aired on CNN-IBN)

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