Nightcrawler – 4.5/5 – Movie Reviews by Ry!

nightcrawlerNightcrawler – 4.5/5 – There are times when you go and watch a movie; and completely have no what idea what to expect.  You have knowledge of a few things (in this case the actor) but that is it.  With no expectations (which I try to have for most films) you can experience something amazing on screen.  Nightcrawler is a film that I had no expectations, but came out with the thought that this is one of the best acting jobs I have ever seen in a film this year.  Nightcrawler is a spotlight on characterization at its finest, and shows that a film with slight depth can be carried by acting.

Premise:  In the ominous LA nightlife, there is one man (Louis Bloom) who is determined to be the best; and taking necessary risk to be the ultimate Nightcrawler

At the heart of the film is its acting.  The heart is found in its lead actor; Jake Gyllenhaal.   Jake plays Louis Bloom, a thief who is filled with positivity.  He has no formal education and does a lot of ‘self help’ teachings through various means (including online and observation of others).  He gets intrigued with the late night scene of camera criminal scene investigation, and plants his seed on doing his best at this new venture.   Weaving a calm and collective mantra; Gyllenhaal brings about someone who is charming, witty but additionally creepy and emotionless on screen.  His layering of calculation; along with knowing ‘where and what’ he wants to do; creates an intensity that is both captivating and terrifying.  Louis Bloom could care less about the people he works for or with, and he uses his intellect and ‘street smarts’ to weasel his way to the ‘top’ of the game that he wants to conquer.  The irony in his portrayal is he makes you want to root for him, but at the same time hope he gets served his due because of all the heresy he does to others.  It is the best acting job I have ever seen from Jake Gyllenhaal.  At this point of the year, he is my favorite for main actor at the Oscars.  Opposite him, there are a few that help envelop this story and his character:

Bill Paxton as Joe Loder

Rene Russo as Nina Romina

Rick Garcia as himself

These three are the notable characters in the film.  The reason is because their performances parallel this world of ‘cameramen getting crime scene videos’ along with being the ‘catalyst’ in a way for Louis Bloom’s rise.  They play the traditional ‘supporting roles’, but there characters infuse a humane side that helps create contrast to the void in the Bloom character.  What this does is create an ‘eye’ for the audience, one that helps see two sides of Bloom; allowing you to breathe his determination but also fear his calculated decisions.   Since the film focuses on these characters; the rest of the cast is mostly fluff for the film.  The cliché elements do not hurt or hinder the film, but it’s obvious they are there.

The direction is what you would describe as ‘character focused.  There is a methodical approach to the storytelling, one that allows the characters to dictate the next move.  Unlike a previous film that used a lot of character focus elements recently (Fury); this one actually had an anchor of a premise for the main lead and his supporting cast.  That anchor (as mention above) is the under belly of these camera men at night; whom go out capturing crime scenes on video to sell to local news stations.  What this does is help create a ‘focal point’ for the characters to play along with in the film.  What this also does is add that additional depth where even if the characters ‘failed’ to be believable, you still have a story to flow everything.  The great thing is that the characters are believable, which engrosses you into their motives, mission and obvious consequences to some of the choices they make in the film.  As mention in the acting description, we follow Luis Bloom, and his slow rise as a main stay in this ‘nightcrawler’ world.  As you watch him through it all, you feel the intensity of his motivations.  He has a specific goal; and one where he will take necessary risks to get to the top.  The way the direction weaves around this one character is enthralling.  The focus helps infuse together the dialogue heavy scenes with Louis Bloom’s psychological mind games.  The subtlety of those mind games helps creates the ‘aura’ of intensity, when the obvious is not.  As an audience member, you’re completely enraptured by everything, not knowing what will happen next, or if Louis Bloom will meet his demise because of some of the crime scenes he investigates.  Adding to this flavor is the void of humanistic qualities.  The parallel of this creates a great contrasting tone, where you realize his heartless motives along with fearing for the people surrounding him on this quest.  The subtlety of tone, combined with the methodical pacing pulls all three acts together, creating a true and hardy modern masterpiece of art.  Once we get to the third act, all is put on display as if Louis Bloom will fail.  Ultimately (without spoiling anything) it is all a trick, and you see a winning card within a losing hand.  For all the praise I can give to how everything weaves gently and efficiently, there is one minor flaw.  That flaw is the convenient elements that are part of the latter crime scenes.  All seems to be ‘perfectly’ set for the main character to get in and out without no consequences.  Even for this obvious story trope, it is something you as the audience ignore because it never hinders the experience.

The cinematography grasps you with a haunting feel; through the creation of the ‘other’ night life in LA.  You are mainly in the car with Louis Bloom, so you get a ‘bird’s eye’ view of being a ‘follower’ for the ride.  This creates that haunting feeling because of the personalized experience of the story.  You feel part of these ‘night’ camera raids, which makes you feel a fragile sense; one that helps create a ‘what if’ tone and completely wipes out any predictability factors.  The score is the one thing that takes you out of the film. There are times that the music makes you feel like it is out of place, and actually kills the tone for specific moments.  For majority of the film, it stays in the background and has zero effect.

Nightcrawler is a unique film; one that puts a focus on the main character.  Jake Gyllenhaal gives a tour de force performance; a role that will garner Oscar attention.  I’m just going to say this; if you’re a person who likes ‘new’ things; want something fresh and unique and  be enraptured in a film, this is one for you.  This is one of the best films of the year and worth watching at the theaters.

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