Wow, I’m still seeing the “Oscar” movies and I just love this time of year; Christmas, snow, skiing, Winter Break, and the best movies of the year! This time I saw Nightcrawler, which did not receive enough praise from the Academy.
Nightcrawler stars Jake Gyllenhaal as a very persistent, motivated, and calculated, Lou Bloom. The first time we see him, no spoilers, we realize he is not normal. But next we see he just wanted to sell some metal crap to make some kind of money and get any kind of job. “I don’t hire thiefs” a construction site manager says to him after buying materials from Bloom.
From then on we see just how far this character will go to succeed in this competitive city of LA. I’ve never been to LA and can only imagine what it looks like from what I’ve seen in film. In Nightcrawler the nights in LA look beautiful and almost fantastical, especially in one of my favorite shots with Rene Russo and Gyllenhaal standing in front of a giant picture of LA at night. The cinematography by Robert Elswit, a Paul Thomas Anderson faovorite, is breathtaking, creating his own little world within this story.
Lou Bloom is the character that I love to watch and experience, at a distance though. He is the Patrick Bateman or Norman Bates of this generation. This modern psychopath is so interesting because of his relevance today. He is looking relentlessly for a job, using modern technology to help him. He takes courses online, educates himself, and at times seems to know more about what people want than those in the media. I love it when I see a film with a character so complex, so relatable, and so scary. Scary in the fact that he is unpredictable and vindictive, and scary that he is only wants what most job-seekers want and we emphasize with that. Lou Bloom is a psychopath. He will cross whatever lines he needs to so that he can satisfy whatever desire he has. One could see he is dead inside. He publicly is held back, calm, and ultimately faking. The true moments that he feels alive comes when he is filming or solely observing a crime scene. He is transfixed by what he sees, unable to take his eyes or the camera away revealed so powerfully in a scene where he tampers with a scene, holds the camera above his head and marvels at what he has accomplished. Another telling scene is when Bloom asks out Rene Russo’s character. He’s not attracted to her, he’s attracted to what she can give him. The reason he gives for wanting a romantic relationship is their career paths and he is only confusing that desire with what he thinks love is. Like many other normal people, Lou Bloom loves his job more than life.
“I think Lou is inspiring all of us to reach a little higher.” This quote has a lot of truth to it. Lou has no boundaries or moral intuition, yes, but he has a motivation for success lives in us all and does inspire us.
I believe that there is a subtle yet powerful social commentary in this film, much like American Psycho. Bloom is so focused on being the first to arrive at a scene, focused on money but notice he only spends it on a better car so he can get places faster. He creates a facade of kinship to his partner the seems sincere until the end which I will not spoil. While we fully understand that this man is psychopathic, it can be said of all of us that we can get so caught up with our jobs and money that we care less about others than we care to admit. Maybe there’s a little sociopath in all of us.
I mentioned before that this was an Oscar movie but it only received one nomination for best original screenplay. This movie was criminally underrated. Jake Gyllenhaal transformed into Lou Bloom. I never saw Gyllenhaal acting in it. The script yes was incredible, but Gilroy and Elswit’s portrayal of a bright, sleek, and brilliant city inhabited by media. This is easily one of my favorite films of last year.