Lou Bloom is not a likeable guy. He is a crook. A thief. A loner. We first get introduced to Lou when he is stealing manhole covers and wire fencing. Interrupted by a security guard, Lou physically engages his questioner and is able to escape without capture (and with a new watch to boot).
That same evening, Lou drives past a highway accident and is immediately fascinated with the freelance videographer (Bill Paxton) that is capturing the police efforts to rescue the driver. It spurs him to procure his own video equipment and begin an odyssey where the ambitious and morally inept cameraman would follow police dispatches in an attempt to capture the violent and seedy side of Los Angeles and then sell it to a local television station for random profit.
Actor Jake Gyllenhaal takes another brave turn playing outsider Lou. Gyllenhaal has shown an incredible range and maturity with roles in Prisoners, Enemy, Zodiac and now Nightcrawler. As Lou Bloom, he plays his most interesting character yet. Oscar worthy and a commanding on screen Gyllenhaal takes a deplorable character and makes him fascinatingly watchable. Jake is arguably the best actor working in the business today.
In Nightcrawler, Gyllenhaal is aided by a complex character study by writer/director Dan Gilroy. The accomplished writer is responsible for penning The Bourne Legacy, Real Steel and The Fall. But Nightcrawler is his most adult and proficient effort yet.
Lou Bloom is the proverbial onion of a character with layers of immoral ambiguity. There is no ethical tightrope walking. Lou is on the wrong side of principled behavior. When on scene at an accident, he pushes through crowds to get the most gruesome close-up of the dying or deceased. And his motivation for acceptance with the station director (played by Rene Russo) and the unseen television audience spurs Lou down a path where staging scenes or obstructing justice in his relentless attempt to get the best footage becomes commonplace.
Lou’s reasoning for his behavior is spellbinding. Not formally educated, but an apprentice of the internet, Lou is not without intelligence. His reasoning is faulty. But his skewed ambition is supported by ratings associated with is work and the addictive support he generates with the television station that pays him for his unprincipled and illegal efforts.
Nightcrawler takes an unapologetic path culminating in a final reel that is full of tension, car chases, surprises and conclusion that the ‘If it bleeds, it leads’ mantra is alive, well and flourishing in media supported broadcasts.
Nightcrawler ends up being a absorbing look at not only the irreparable character of Lou, but how we as a society create the Lou’s of the world. We create them and then share their stepped boundaries with clicks, forwards and pauses. And Gilroy has turned it into one of the best films of the year.