Capsule Review Crime

TIFF Capsule Review: Nightcrawler

September 6, 2014Ben MK

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Heart of darkness...

For further proof of Jake Gyllenhaal's penchant for playing tortured characters, look no further than Nightcrawler. The debut feature from screenwriter-turned-director Dan Gilroy (The Bourne Legacy) — which comes on the heels of Gyllenhaal's turns in the brooding psychological thriller Enemy and the intense crime-drama Prisoners — centers on Lou Bloom (Gyllenhaal), an aimless, lonely grifter whose indoctrination into the seedy, noir underbelly of L.A. crime journalism sends his narcissistic tendencies spiraling out of control.


After happening upon an accident by the side of the freeway and witnessing a sleazy crime scene stringer (Bill Paxton) filming the rescue efforts, Lou realizes that there's money to be made from other people's misfortunes and decides to get in on the action. With his gullible, newly-hired intern, Rick (Riz Ahmed), riding shotgun, Lou speeds from one bloody crime scene to another, gathering footage of the gruesome aftermath and handing it over to news director Nina (Rene Russo) — who's willing to sacrifice ethics for ratings — in exchange for a paycheck.

The film bears some resonance as a commentary on sensationalism in the media, but as a disturbing character study it's truly haunting. Exhibiting a perpetual wide-eyed intensity, Gyllenhaal (who lost twenty pounds for the role) courts no sympathy from audiences, bringing shades of Christian Bale's titular American Psycho to his darkly satirical portrayal of a sociopath in relentless pursuit of his own twisted version of the American dream. We may have seen glimpses of Gyllenhaal's dark side in his previous films, but this is the actor as you've never seen him before.  Ben Mk

Nightcrawler receives its world premiere as part of TIFF 2014's Special Presentations programme and is currently scheduled for an October 2014 release by Elevation Pictures. Photo credit: Elevation Pictures.

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