Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Film Review: Nightcrawler (2014)

Copyright: Open Road Films
Civilization, since the dawn of humanity, was about many things, but it was also very much about blood and entertainment. Ancient Rome first comes to mind when we think about stuff like this, but honestly, cultures that were completely clean of any kind of gruesome entertainment ritual, event or practice are few and far between.

The instinct behind this drive is very understandable. Thanatos, as the opposite of Eros, the instinct of life, is the instinct of death, the thing that looks for entropy as the final and complete resting place and a sanctuary from the often overbearing existence.
In his film, Dan Gilroy, who wrote and directed Nightcrawler, takes a long, hard look at this need of ours in the 21st century. Our probes might be landing on comets, but inside of us, the urge to witness death didn’t diminish with the onset of the modern age. In fact, it got some brand sparking new allies.

In his two-decade career, Gilroy mostly wrote screenplays, and produced several known movies, some of which, like Freejack, aren’t exactly superb. But, for a first time director, Gilroy chose a scalding subject and presented it with a merciless narration and an awesome cinematography of LA covered by the darkness of the night.

In it, Jake Gyllenhaal plays Louis Bloom, a young multi-layered predator, scavenger and self-educated psychopath. The film begins with him on a personal quest to find a job in LA, any kind of job. One night, he sees a random car crash, and sees a TV crew arriving there and filming the scene. In that moment, he learns about nightcrawling – a job that includes freelance “journalists” cruising around the wider LA area, filming whatever violent event they find and then selling it to the local TV stations. In a blink of an eye, Louis finds the job he was looking for.

The thing about Nightcrawler movie, which impressed me the most is Gilroy’s readiness to make the main character completely foreign and unexplainable. He doesn’t try to show how he became what he is, or doesn’t go looking for his redeeming characteristic. Louis is simply the Eye of Sauron, a menacing force that is willing to do plenty of damage to anyone, but does this not to enjoy the suffering of others, but for a clear personal gain. Devoid of empathy, Gyllenhaal, who already produced a masterpiece in 2013 with a great movie Enemy, once again shines as the dark space in a human suit. In the film, he always says the right thing, but does it in a manner that is emotionally completely alien.

Like his camera, Louis has his eyes open all the time and is unapologetic about a single thing he does. As the film slowly escalates in terms of the plot, his presence remains steady and stable – the plot might be progressing to a bloody climax, but Louis is certain that he will be there filming it all. But, the brilliance of the film is in the fact that watching Nightcrawler isn’t about Louis. It’s about us, and the thing in us which keeps all the people like Louis in business.