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Nightcrawler - DVD Review


Review by Rob Carnevale

IndieLondon Rating: 5 out of 5

THE spirit of ’70s era Martin Scorsese and Paul Schraeder runs throughout Nightcrawler, a hugely impressive character-driven thriller that also boasts a smart contemporary edge.

Jake Gyllenhaal is also on sizzling form in the central role of Lou Bloom, an opportunist loner trying to make a living who stumbles upon the idea of selling TV networks on-scene footage of car crashes or crime scenes.

Given the competitive nature of the industry, as personified by Bill Paxton’s rival cameraman, Lou resorts to increasingly desperate measures to be there first and get the best shot.

The ensuing film, written and directed by Dan Gilroy, is as twisted as it is brilliant, taking viewers on an increasingly nightmarish journey that is as eerily exhilarating as it is capable of posing moral and ethical questions, particularly of the media but also of society, and how far is too far.

Gyllenhaal is a magnetic presence, creating in Lou Bloom a character with personality and behavioural disorders that rival Taxi Driver‘s Travis Bickle. He is a menace prone to extremes but someone who is capable of being charming too. He knows how to get what he wants and there is nothing he won’t do.

Gyllenhaal’s performance marks a tour-de-force and is another impressive benchmark on a career CV that already includes Zodiac, Donnie Darko, Prisoners and End of Watch.

But there’s eye-catching support, too, from Paxton as Bloom’s main rival, Riz Ahmed as Bloom’s hopelessly out of his depth assistant and Rene Russo, terrific as the news editor who keeps commissioning Bloom.

Gilroy’s direction is also first-rate, keeping viewers on their toes and building the air of competition and tension so that he is able to deliver two or three genuinely gasp out loud moments. He also creates a neon-lit LA that is as sleazy and dangerous as Scorsese’s New York but which also boasts the seductive, translucent beauty of a Michael Mann landscape (with the help of cinematographer Robert Elswit).

Perhaps most impressive of all, however, is the way in which Gilroy combines moments of adrenaline-rush cinema with plenty to feed the brain.

It’s that more than anything that helps to ensure Nightcrawler becomes an instant classic: a film to stand the test of time but one that will also come to define the era in which it was made.

Certificate: 15
Running time: 117mins
UK Blu-ray & DVD Release: March 2, 2014