Numerous movies have focused on the critique of television in general and the profession of a reporter in particular. Nightcrawler by Dan Gilroy, a brilliant thriller that is among the best pictures of 2014, discusses the same theme. However, the director uses TV context to show his own vision of the American Dream.
The movie focuses on a personality of Louis Bloom, who lives in Los Angeles. Louis is a cunning and sneaky man without any morality. One day, while committing petty theft, he realizes that it is safer and more profitable to steal someone else’s pain and resell it to those who need it. Eavesdropping on police frequencies, he rapidly arrives at the place of major accidents or crimes, videotapes everything, and then offers the tapes to different TV channels and programs (Gilroy, 2014). In that way begins his breathtaking ascent from an unknown person to the star of broadcasting, from a worthless thief to a professional criminal. The primary stages of his career include shooting of car accidents, the tape of the massacre in the big and fashionable house, and even the speculation on the death of his companion (Danbury & Gilroy, 2014).
Mise en scene of the movie is full of small details that create an echoing atmosphere of night crossings, which is accompanied by the brilliant soundtrak of James Newton Howard and flickering neon signs taken from the most unusual angles. A strong point of Nightcrawler is outstanding operator work by Robert Elswit that combines the pathological voyeurism of amateur camcorder and depressing monotonous night panoramas of Los Angeles. Another strong point of the movie is Jake Gyllenhaal’s acting. He plays the character of Louis, who is the embodiment of pure ambition devoid of all sorts of restrictions in the form of close sympathy, moral, or ethical code. At the same time, he very precisely and neatly captures an interesting psycho type of highly adaptive sociopath, an outstanding single-minded personality, who can achieve major success almost from scratch. That is why, perhaps, the movie ends abnormally positively for the protagonist. After all, everything can happen in a society of double standards.
Dan Gilroy is the filmmaker of this movie. One can hardly believe that this quinquagenarian screenwriter made his first work as a director. The history of Lou Bloom is Gilroy’s grotesque, but very revealing vision of the American dream. His unique style supposes a schematic drawing of heroes that helps to present their characters more clearly and convincingly. At the same time, as a debutant, Gilroy wants to cover as many issues as possible. He speaks about the world of constant surveillance where any personal pain is not immune from the intrusion of television, about media that are greedy and eager for bloody sensations, and about the willingness to sacrifice everything for the success.
Nightcrawler fascinates and repels at the same time, and this reaction is definitely something Gilroy wanted to achieve. I think that while the director criticizes the character of Louis, he, at the same time, wants to study such personality. This movie does not give clear answers but starts an interesting conversation. It forced me to think that with the rapid globalization and development of the Internet, moral barriers fall, and the modern audience wants entertainment and satisfaction. Moreover, I feel that Gilroy’s story contains an extremely small amount of secondary characters. On the one hand, it helps to focus on Bloom’s personality. On the other hand, different secondary characters could make the story deeper.
The synthesis of a strong script, neat directing, and unique acting technique made this story one of the best movies of 2014. Nightcrawler states that if a person does not think about conscience and duty, sets a goal and moves forward without any regrets, he/she can achieve everything. In that context, this movie is stronger than any book about the personal development and earning money with the power of thought.