Jake Gyllenhaal’s Lou Bloom is not only one of the best antiheroes we have seen on the cinema screen in the twentieth century, but one of the best characters in the last 16 years period. It is utterly bizarre that neither Gyllenhaal nor the actual film were honoured by the Academy Awards, because it was one of the best movies of 2014, and has rightly taken its place as a cult classic.
We first meet Bloom whilst he is making ends meet through petty thieving. Immediately we gather, through Dan Gilroy’s brilliant script, that Lou is somewhat charming, but also greatly unsettling. He has learned all he knows from the internet, and uses rehearsed quotes and phrases to communicate with the people he meets. He sounds like a slightly twisted inspirational speaker. After coming across a car wreck on the highway he learns of the world of the Nightcrawlers – men who seek out devastating incidents in order to film them, and sell their tapes to the highest bidding news channel. Something clicks deep within Lou and he is addicted to this gritty, somewhat sleazy, and certainly unwholesome world. Lou climbs the ranks, becoming a prominent figure in video news, and even hires his own assistant, Rick (Riz Ahmed). This is when the movie kicks up a gear and the tension builds to a fantastically shocking finale.
Lou is a fascinating character to spend two hours with. He makes you squirm in your seat as he quickly and seamlessly shifts from merely unnerving to completely demented and terrifying. Gyllenhaal is utterly compelling in the role, shedding weight to create a gaunt, bug-eyed, almost Nosferatu-esque figure, who roams the night. The leading man good lucks are stripped away to reveal the slimey, discomfiting Lou underneath. Few other Hollywood a-listers would have been able to shed their reputation and inhabit such a character in such a way.
Nightcrawler allows us to delve deep into a unique and strange world. One that actually takes place in society around us. The moral and ethical questions that it brings up are fascinating, as are the legal ones when Lou decides to take things into his own hands. It is the perfect thriller, that will genuinely haunt your thoughts for days, and will mean you never look at news the same way again.