For reasons I’ve never understood, Jake Gyllenhaal hasn’t ever been considered an A-List actor by the general public. He’s gone above and beyond with his acting abilities and made many objectively good movies back-to-back, yet no one seems to take him seriously. Well I sincerely hope those people go see Nightcrawler because wow, Jake Gyllenhaal blows it out of the water.
Nightcrawler is a movie about a petty criminal who begins freelancing gruesome traffic and crime scene footage to the morning news, and his pure drive and ambition takes him well into disturbing territory. I could tell from the moment I finished the trailer that Nightcrawler was a movie I absolutely had to see, and I was not wrong. Jake Gyllenhaal deserves the focus here, for sure, but the other aspects of the movie are also Oscar-worthy, and I truly hope to see some awards being won for them. To start, the cinematography is absolutely gorgeous. It is fairly controlled in its shots, but the visuals and coloring of those visuals gives off this unsettling, nearly too-real feeling that is only built upon by the well-chosen music. It’s strangely upbeat at times, occasionally when something truly horrific is happening, and all of that works toward getting the viewer to simultaneously root for and be disgusted with Jake Gyllenhaal’s character of Lou Bloom.
Gyllenhaal brings this creepy, ambitious, repugnant character to life from the already incredibly writing and just runs with it. Lou Bloom is one of the more fascinating characters to grace the screen in easily the past few years. He is abhorrent but charming. You begin to root for the guy, even after he begins to lose grip and take things further and further than any human being with a conscious would dare go. You want him to succeed, because he absolutely strives to do so.
This movie is certainly an appeal to – and a criticism of – American ambition and capitalism, a theme that I think most Americans will feel an unconscious pull towards. Not only that, but the moral ambiguity and decline of journalism and the news is highly focused upon in this movie. All of it works together to bring Jake Gyllenhaal’s performance into focus and highlight the amazing job that he does. He throws himself full-force into this role and it shows. It’s a true transformation that is evident from the many subtle quirks in appearance and personality that he brings to Lou, and if there was a singular reason to go see this movie, it is absolutely to see this master of acting at work.