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Genre Crime

Nightcrawler is a dark and deviant crime drama thriller from Dan Gilroy that skewers news services with a compelling story about a sociopath, whose dead eye acumen and entrepreneurial spirit see him accumulate more and more power within the local news scene in Los Angeles. By covering the graveyard shift and some of the most grisly crimes in affluent areas, our ambitious on-the-scene newsman gains traction with a local news network and manager.

Jake Gyllenhaal is a perfect match for Lou Bloom and it feels like writer-director Dan Gilroy wrote the part specifically for him. A similar alienation akin to Donnie Darko keeps us at arm's length from the character. The Los Angeles location, grisly nature of his job and partnership between Bloom and his intern echo End of Watch. While the desperate, diligent and determined spirit of his role as Detective Loki in Prisoners shines through here too. You could say Louis Bloom is a mix of all three with his slicked back hair and creepy-crawly personality contributing to a new skin for the titular role in Nightcrawler.

Nightcrawler is Gyllenhaal's movie, but he's supported by Rene Russo as local TV news veteran, Nina Romina, Riz Ahmed as his assistant Rick and Bill Paxton as his primary competition, Joe Loder. Russo grounds Bloom in reality, allowing him to fester like a slow-healing wound. Ahmed is unrecognisable and purposefully slight as Rick and Paxton is great at being "that guy".

The anti-American Dream story creates tension by allowing Bloom to gather momentum unchecked and without a conscience. We admire his diligence, his systematic drive and his resourceful attitude... traits that are honoured in Western culture. However, our appreciation for his can-do approach dwindles as the master manipulator becomes more inmeshed in a news story that becomes more and more about him.

This is a fascinating character study with a smart Oscar-nominated script that keeps us hooked on its complex character, who while despicable, retains enough human qualities to keep us on the fence as things become increasingly alienating, exciting and extreme. The ethics behind news gathering and the integrity of getting ahead in life are examined as we're slowly immersed into the mind's eye of a sociopath.

It's a wild ride and Gilroy gives Nightcrawler a seedy low budget reality feeling, repeatedly breaking walls with Bloom operating a camera of his own within the film. It's a slippery crime drama thriller that's bold, entertaining and darkly comical as Lou concocts one play after another in his bid for local news network domination. We're shocked at the lengths he goes to, amused by his open hand negotiations and baffled by his by-the-book approach.

The bottom line: Compelling

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