NIGHTCRAWLER, one of my favourite films of the year, is a dark descent into madness. JAKE GYLLENHAAL delivers a hypnotic performance as a paparazzi / parasitic vulture / lost cousin to DeNIRO’s Travis Bickle from TAXI DRIVER.
I never rooted for Gylenhaal’s character here. Rather, I was absolutely frightened and deeply disturbed by him. But I couldn’t look away – I suppose it’s like a car accident he films for money. Gyllenhaal was just so captivating despite being so revolting. For these reasons and more I feel like JG more than deserved an Oscar nomination.
I’ve heard a lot of people say they rooted for this guy and wanted to see him succeed – even local folks at my video store. While this troubles me, I’m aware the same thing happened last year with WOLF OF WALL STREET. I’d credit / blame the filmmakers and the main actors for this… oh, that, and capitalism. 😉 I’m not sure if we’re -supposed- to root for GORDON GECKO-like characters, but that’s more a philosophical debate on ETHICS suitable for true intellects. I’m just a movie nerd like you.
RENE RUSSO also commands the screen with an Oscar worthy performance as a ruthless television producer. The social commentary on our media in NIGHTCRAWLER is scathing and insightful – even if it is depressing. Russo is another character who sacrifices her morals to get ahead in life. She exploits the tragedies of others without regard for human life. You’d think if footage comes in of a crime scene, a television producer might notify the authorites. Yet cut-throats like Russo perceive this as an attack against their own success and hide behind a mission statement to tell the truth and show their viewers “reality”.
The idea of a sociopath like Gyllenhaal’s character capitalizing on tragedy only to become a great success is so scary for me. That shocking moment with his cameraman (an under-rated performance by RIZ AHMED) near the end sealed the deal for me. It’s like JG went up the river and shook hands with COL. KURTZ.
A movie full of morally deplorable characters has never been so exciting. The tension builds with each scene, until it brims over the surface where it burns, pops, and sizzles on the hot coals of our injured and disturbed psyches.
NIGHTCRAWLER infects you. It gets under your skin and squirms. It itches at you from behind your eyes. This film is a captivating downward spiral worth experiencing – just tread with caution.
What did you think?
Did NIGHTCRAWLER and its leading man, JAKE GYLLENHAAL, get snubbed at the Oscars? They weren’t even nominated. Was this film simply just too dark (thematically)?
Did you want to see Gyllenhaal’s character succeed?
How do you feel about his character arc? Was it satisfying or disturbing?
Is this film the contemporary to the cult classic TAXI DRIVER from the 70s by MARTIN SCORSESE?
Did NIGHTCRAWLER tell the story of a rise to success? Or a descent into madness?