I Rented It at the Video Store: NIGHTCRAWLER

nite- posterHard to believe Jake Gyllenhaal didn’t win big for his haunted, hungry performance as Lou Bloom in NIGHTCRAWLER.

Hell, he wasn’t even nominated for an Oscar.

He did earn Golden Globe, Independent Spirit and BAFTA Award nominations, though, one reason I prefer the picks of these bodies to Big Daddy – they reflect my own choices more.

Apparently, the actor even lost weight to better capture the rootless, casually amoral  young man from the LA suburbs – we don’t know Bloom’s backstory but I assume it wasn’t good –  who earns a reputation for his up close and very personal footage of accident scenes, home invasions and homicide.

Jake Gyllehaal as Lou Bloom in Nightcrawler
Jake Gyllehaal as Lou Bloom in Nightcrawler

It works.

Mr. Gyllenhaal looks positively vampiric in the film, mostly shot at night ( kudos to cinematographer Robert Elswit. Yes, I know, he won an Academy Award for his work on There Will be Blood.)

Critics have raved about Mr, Gyllenhaal’s “sociopathic stare” in the role but for me it is the actor’s feces-eating smile when Bloom is trying to be friendly that is truly creepy.

Screenwriter Tony Gilroy (writer of the Bourne films) makes his directorial debut here. He won an Oscar nom for his Nightcrawler screenplay. The film doubles as a gritty thriller with traces of noir and a scathing indictment of media types who seek to profit from other peoples’ misery. The behind-the-scenes featurette on the DVD includes an interview with two young men who actually make their living as nightcrawlers. Apparently Mr. Gilroy used them as research in writing his script. Not surprisingly, they are both British. (The UK press seems to  have cornered the market on unapologetic tabloid sleaze.)

Veteran actress Rene Russo (Mrs. Gilroy in real life ) puts in what is arguably the best performance of a long career which includes Get Shorty and 1999’s Thomas Crown Affair as a television news editor who gets more than she bargained for when she attempts to jumpstart her stalled career by hitching her star to Bloom’s rise.

Actress Rene Russo and writer/director Dan Gilroy
Actress Rene Russo and writer/director Dan Gilroy

You may never watch the late news in the same way again after seeing this film.  And if you are planning a move anywhere in the Los Angeles area you may not want to see ths film. ( In Bloom’s world bad things happen every night in L.A.)

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