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Review: Nightcrawler

Nightcrawler
10.31.2014
10 10

This review originally ran as part of our TIFF 2014 coverage.

PLOT: A young man (Jake Gyllenhaal) who ekes out a living as a petty thief, stumbles upon the cutthroat, dangerous, lucrative world of crime-scene videography for the evening news.

REVIEW: Having already seen a half-dozen movies at this year's edition of the Toronto International Film Festival, I can say without a doubt that NIGHTCRAWLER is the first truly great film I've seen from this year's programming. It's still very early, but I was absolutely floored by this darkly humorous, violent, chilling look at a sordid world many of us are utterly naive to.

Watching the evening news, have you ever wondered who goes in and shoots the aftermath of accidents and violent crime you see repeated over-and-over again? In NIGHTCRAWLER, you get up close and personal with a truly terrifying example of this breed, Jake Gyllenhaal's Lou Bloom. Gyllenhaal's always been a great actor (which he proved twice at last year's TIFF alone with PRISONERS and ENEMY). Leo Bloom is like his Travis Bickle, with him doing an unsettling job portraying the sociopathic Bloom, who we first catch ripping off copper-wiring and manhole covers to be resold for pennies to a construction company. When caught in the act he brutally assaults a guard, and he gets much, much worse as the film goes on.

Gyllenhaal's physical transformation is striking. While he apparently only lost twenty pounds or so, with his prominent cheekbones and huge eyes, he looks a lot different than the matinee idol audiences were drooling over at the post-film Q&A. This is a game-changer for his career, and if he doesn't get an Oscar nomination for this than something is seriously wrong with the Academy, as this is the performance of the year so far.

Make no mistake, he's playing a truly bad guy here. A lot has been made of its neo-noir take, with DP Robert Elswitt's neon-lit shooting of the Los Angeles suburbs by night casting a dark lens on what we assume are the quieter parts of the city. But, in classic noir, the hero is often an unwitting pawn. Gyllenhaal's Bloom happily goes down the rabbit hole, sneaking into crime scenes to shoot the victims, even moving corpses and at his worst interfering with investigations to spur even more violence he can exploit. He's an evil man, but a fascinating one.

Coming from writer-director Dan Gilroy, NIGHTCRAWLER's depiction of Bloom is never simple, furthering the TAXI DRIVER comparisons. We get inside his head, and that's a nasty place to be. However, special contempt is saved for Rene Russo's news director at the station where Gyllenhaal sells his work. She laps up his brutal clips telling him to think of their program as “a woman running down the street screaming with her throat cut.” Russo is tremendous in her first really juicy role in a while (with a possible best supporting actress nod seeming like a distinct possibility). What's interesting is how the relationship between her and Gyllenhaal develops, as their balance of power starts to shift from one to the other, leading to an amazing scene at a Mexican restaurant that will make jaws drop.

Additionally, Riz Ahmed, as Gyllenhaal's none-too-bright “intern” and Bill Paxton as his rock n'roll fellow “nightcrawler” are terrific, with both playing well off Gyllenhaal, and getting plenty of juicy scenes to sink their teeth into. It's amazing to think that this is Gilroy's directorial debut – although he previously co-wrote his brother Tony Gilroy's THE BOURNE LEGACY, REAL STEEL and more. The pace is relentless, and it has lots of hair raising chase scenes including a climatic one that had everyone at the packed premiere applauding at its execution. The score by James Newton Howard is similarly good, with it being kind of Gyllenhaal's greek chorus throughout. This is really amazing stuff.

In the end, I'd say I was as blown away by NIGHTCRAWLER as I was when I saw GRAVITY, 12 YEARS A SLAVE or PRISONERS at last year's fest. It's an incredible piece of work, and so far my pick for not only the best movie of the festival, but maybe the best of the year as well. It's a tremendous piece of work and it'll be a tough act to follow for any other TIFF title in the lineup.

CLICK IMAGE TO OPEN GALLERY & SEE MORE PICS...

Source: JoBlo.com

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9:52AM on 03/11/2015

Nice!

Really liked it. Nothing else to say.
Really liked it. Nothing else to say.
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+0
10:31AM on 10/31/2014

not evil

saw it last night. great movie and superb performance but i dont think his character was evil, just a sociopath
saw it last night. great movie and superb performance but i dont think his character was evil, just a sociopath
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2:19PM on 10/31/2014
Some would argue that a sociopath - as someone clinically incapable of empathy - is inherently evil.
Some would argue that a sociopath - as someone clinically incapable of empathy - is inherently evil.
4:46PM on 10/31/2014
I would say that to be evil you have to know that what you are doing is wrong and choose to do it
I would say that to be evil you have to know that what you are doing is wrong and choose to do it
+2
1:39AM on 10/31/2014
Most definitely his best role to date. He deserves a nomination for this. The scene where he gives his little monologue to Rene Russo's character actually terrified me. Dude is scary crazy in this film. One of my faves of the year so far. Fantastic movie.
Most definitely his best role to date. He deserves a nomination for this. The scene where he gives his little monologue to Rene Russo's character actually terrified me. Dude is scary crazy in this film. One of my faves of the year so far. Fantastic movie.
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12:50AM on 10/31/2014

A+ Career Best

Oscar nomination automatic. Win is highly likely. This is Travis Bickle if Bickle wasn't violent, just lacked ANY morals and most likely had Aspbergers. Gyllenhaal is legendary. This is Silence of the Lambs iconic, in my opinion.
Oscar nomination automatic. Win is highly likely. This is Travis Bickle if Bickle wasn't violent, just lacked ANY morals and most likely had Aspbergers. Gyllenhaal is legendary. This is Silence of the Lambs iconic, in my opinion.
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12:18AM on 10/31/2014
Leo Bloom?
Leo Bloom?
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12:18AM on 10/31/2014
Leo Bloom?
Leo Bloom?
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11:48PM on 10/30/2014

Hey Chris Bumbray...

Did I see a quote from you in the t.v. preview or was that my imagination?

Also the movie looks great. Hope to see it this weekend.
Did I see a quote from you in the t.v. preview or was that my imagination?

Also the movie looks great. Hope to see it this weekend.
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9:56AM on 10/31/2014
Yeah that was me buddy! Enjoy. It's terrific.
Yeah that was me buddy! Enjoy. It's terrific.
2:36PM on 10/30/2014

Read the script. I can't wait.

I've never read a script that disturbed me yet found it utterly fascinating. Not until Night Crawler. I'm there opening day.
I've never read a script that disturbed me yet found it utterly fascinating. Not until Night Crawler. I'm there opening day.
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1:27PM on 10/30/2014

10?

Awesome! I can't wait to check it out, it looks like a fresh new idea and the trailers have been sick!
Awesome! I can't wait to check it out, it looks like a fresh new idea and the trailers have been sick!
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4:12PM on 09/06/2014
Wow, I was already going to check the movie out after that first trailer kicked my ass but damn, 10/10 Chris? I'm so seeing this on opening day and forcing everyone to watch it.
Wow, I was already going to check the movie out after that first trailer kicked my ass but damn, 10/10 Chris? I'm so seeing this on opening day and forcing everyone to watch it.
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3:58PM on 09/06/2014

Dang...

Will definitely be checking this out. 'Prisoners' was one of my favorite films last year, and so to say it's on par, if not better, is high praise indeed.
Will definitely be checking this out. 'Prisoners' was one of my favorite films last year, and so to say it's on par, if not better, is high praise indeed.
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2:06PM on 09/06/2014
I haven't watched all his movies, but I don't think there's a movie with Jake Gyllenhaal that I don't like. I even though Bubble Boy was funny, though I haven't watched it since it came out on DVD.
I haven't watched all his movies, but I don't think there's a movie with Jake Gyllenhaal that I don't like. I even though Bubble Boy was funny, though I haven't watched it since it came out on DVD.
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9:50AM on 09/06/2014
"Watching the evening news, have you ever wondered who goes in and shoots the aftermath of accidents and violent crime you see repeated over-and-over again?" .... I was one of those guys for 7 years! One of the reasons why I got out of it (mostly the stress) was the fact that I had to see dead bodies and gruesome scenes way too often. I'm glad this movie is awesome, but it might hit too close to home for me. I'll still check it out after this glowing review.
"Watching the evening news, have you ever wondered who goes in and shoots the aftermath of accidents and violent crime you see repeated over-and-over again?" .... I was one of those guys for 7 years! One of the reasons why I got out of it (mostly the stress) was the fact that I had to see dead bodies and gruesome scenes way too often. I'm glad this movie is awesome, but it might hit too close to home for me. I'll still check it out after this glowing review.
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7:04AM on 09/06/2014
Whoa, 10/10? I've got to watch this movie.
Whoa, 10/10? I've got to watch this movie.
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+4
6:00AM on 09/06/2014

Prisoners WAS the best movie of last year

And Jake deserved a goddamn Oscar nomination for his part, if not the win. Looking forward to this.
And Jake deserved a goddamn Oscar nomination for his part, if not the win. Looking forward to this.
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3:58PM on 09/06/2014
Agreed.
Agreed.
11:02PM on 10/30/2014
Double Agreed
Double Agreed
12:52AM on 10/31/2014
This puts Prisoners and End of Watch to shame. And those were fantastic performances.
This puts Prisoners and End of Watch to shame. And those were fantastic performances.
+2
4:51AM on 09/06/2014

Jake's Glimmer Haul

Great! I look forward to it. I thought Prisoners would be the one to beat last year, but it got nowhere near the award recognition I had predicted for it.
Great! I look forward to it. I thought Prisoners would be the one to beat last year, but it got nowhere near the award recognition I had predicted for it.
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4:48AM on 09/06/2014
This film is one of my most anticipated films left of the year. Glad to read that it's phenomenal, since the trailers looked great and that Gyllenhaal absolutely looks like he owns as the male lead.

Anyway, after reading this review, let's just say say my expectations and excitement are much higher for this one now (if that was even possible at this point).
This film is one of my most anticipated films left of the year. Glad to read that it's phenomenal, since the trailers looked great and that Gyllenhaal absolutely looks like he owns as the male lead.

Anyway, after reading this review, let's just say say my expectations and excitement are much higher for this one now (if that was even possible at this point).
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+4
4:30AM on 09/06/2014
Noted! I will definitely follow up on this one.
But, lol @ THIS being proof that something is wrong with the Academy. We didn't already know?
Noted! I will definitely follow up on this one.
But, lol @ THIS being proof that something is wrong with the Academy. We didn't already know?
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3:39AM on 09/06/2014

Damn

That is some high praise. Just got a little more interested in this one.
That is some high praise. Just got a little more interested in this one.
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2:19AM on 09/06/2014
The first trailer shot this up to one of my most anticipated movies of this year. I mean, if this is as amazing as "Prisoners" was last year, then damn....
The first trailer shot this up to one of my most anticipated movies of this year. I mean, if this is as amazing as "Prisoners" was last year, then damn....
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