Jake Gyllenhaal is on another level in Nightcrawler, a spiteful and illuminating thriller about an enthusiastic young monster who discovers that you can make a lot of money by filming car crashes and selling the tapes to the local news. And you can make a lot more by filming crime scenes, but only if you can get there first. Hmmm… what’s a surefire way to get to a crime scene before anybody else?
The moral devastation at the heart of Nightcrawler evokes the classic cinema of the 1970s, everything from Taxi Driver to Network, but writer/director Dan Gilroy’s film feels uncomfortably contemporary. Sure, the news industry has always had dark corners, and there have always been people willing to do terrible things for money. But Gyllenhaal’s anti-anti-antihero Louis Bloom represents an increasingly ugly generation of young, male Americans who are eager to take what they think is rightfully theirs, as though their avarice alone makes them deserving, and as though their shocking inhumanity isn’t an obvious dealbreaker. Gyllenhaal is horrifyingly hypnotic in one of the most distinctive and piercing thrillers of its kind.