Jake Gyllenhaal appears to be having a blast as Lou “Nightcrawler” Bloom, and I’ll be damned if I could resist going right along with him. Jake gives an edgy, infectious performance (sort of like a combination of Hoffman’s “Rain Man” and Tony Perkins’ Norman Bates), and he gets tremendous support from an energetic Bill Paxton, and the still sultry Rene Russo (who, btw, is first-time director Dan Gilroy’s wife). Director Dan Gilroy also penned the crackling screenplay, and cinematographer Robert Elswit gives us a haunted and moonlit, graveyard shift L.A., that perfectly compliments this neo-noir thriller. Watch this one late at night.

Louis Bloom (Mr. Gyllenhaal) is an ambitious, (and possibly borderline autistic) petty crook, who happens into a new life involving shooting footage of crime scenes. A self-described quick learner, Bloom is an instant rival to the much more experienced Joe (Mr. Paxton), and the two engage in immediate battle to arrive first, and get the best and freshest video. Soon Lou is presenting amazing footage to an older, struggling local news director named Nina(Ms. Russo). Desperate for the ratings, and enthralled by his “work”, Nina allows herself to be blackmailed into sex by the strange, yet charismatic, Bloom. It’s not long before Lou finds himself altering crime scenes, to try to stay one step ahead of the competition. Bloom also may be creating some from scratch.

“Nightcrawler” doesn’t appear to quite know what to do with its finale…but the getting there sure is good. The music by James Newton Howard helps to set the dark mood, and this family affair production includes brother John Gilroy as editor, and brother Tony Gilroy (Academy Award-nominated director and screenwriter for 2007’s “Michael Clayton”) as a producer. Not a great film, but a very good one, “Nightcrawler” has the feel of a highly-professional midnight “B” movie, and looks to contain the ingredients of a future cult classic. And Gyllenhaal’s dynamite turn has just received a Best Actor BAFTA nomination (Russo was recognized in the supporting actress category, along with Gilroy for his original screenplay). Oscar just may follow suit.

Grade:  B+

next review up:  “Annie”


2 comments on “Nightcrawler

  1. Gyllenhaal is so incredibly creepy here, that he makes this movie a whole lot better and watchable as a result. Good review Mark.

  2. Thanks, Dan. Jake is very good…quite impressed with Russo, too. ML

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