Director: Dan Gilroy (2014)
Cut-throat and violent, the dark world of TV news is under the spotlight in this slick satirical thriller that is sharply written, wonderfully observed and terrifically performed.
With his gaunt face, sunken eyes, manic grin, lank-hair and soft-spoken measured delivery, Jake Gyllenhaal is mesmerisingly intense as a nightcrawler; a feral TV paparazzo prowling for the most bloody news footage.
Ambitious, articulate and cunning, loner Lou Bloom (Gyllenhaal) is a fervent believer in the American Dream.
Seeing opportunity everywhere he is permanently touting his (limited) skill-set and promoting his enthusiasm to any potential employer.
Inspired when he sees TV cameramen film police rescuing a woman from a car crash, he buys a camcorder and begins cruising the streets of Los Angeles at night, filming crimes to sell to TV.
His inexperienced enthusiasm leads to taking risks, falling foul of the law and his competitors such as the abrasive Joe Loder (Bill Paxton).
But he quickly learns to manipulate criminal events to further his career,
He sells his graphic footage to morally compromised, ageing and acerbic TV News chief Nina (a wonderful Rene Russo and real-life Mrs Dan Gilroy).
Nina’s show is struggling in the ratings and despite Lou being infatuated, exploits her perilous employment situation to secure a sweetheart deal for himself.
A driver Rick (Riz Ahmed) is employed on exploitative terms and provides the film with more black comedy; but he’s mostly a script device to give Lou someone to spout corporate career advice to.
Without any moral framework to guide him and driven by his love of the dollar, he has no compunction manipulating events even they spiral into violence and gunplay.
Bloom is a cartoon monstrosity and had he an ounce of doubt or remorse the drama would be improved. Instead he’s a one joke act lecturing us on the vicious amorality of capitalism. It is however, one hell of a joke.