I had heard good things about Nightcrawler around the time of its Academy Award nomination (for Best Original Screenplay). Its subject matter revolving around the broadcast industry made it somewhat popular among my follow students.
The story revolves around Louis Bloom played by Jake Gyllenhaal. Louis is unemployed and willing to do anything for a job. One night he stumbles upon an accident and is introduced to the world of freelance photography chasing crime scenes. Louis has a talent for it and begins to delve deeper into the wrong side of the law.
For the most part the film is a slow-burn thriller and character study of the type of people who film horrific images for a living. The opening of the film is lighter and has a little more humour, but this fades away as it falls into its creepier side.
The biggest thing holding the film together is the performances. Gyllenhaal does well in playing a focused and often creepy protagonist. The role suffers a little from being very straight-faced and monotone.
Rene Russo also holds her own alongside him as an equally eager news director with a similar love of the morbid. The standout role for me was Riz Ahmed as Rick, Louis assistant and navigator. Ahmed has the most grounded performance and is the character that allows the audience to connect with such a dark world.
My Favourites from the film: Ahmed’s performance was my personal favourite of the film. Louis setup for filming and his first shoots are fun and engaging. The finale works out very well and is quite thrilling.
My Less enjoyed parts of the film: I just have to say it was very slow. It’s two hours long, and one of those hours is purely building tension and moving the characters towards a somewhat expected outcome. The middle of the movie just really lost steam for me, and there’s a subplot where Louis is making romantic pursuits that I felt really went nowhere.
My Recommendation Not for casual moviegoers. If you are looking for an interesting character study with morality questions, this may be for you. It will also appeal to fans of dark thrillers, but be prepared for a slow plot.