However bleak its overall message, Nightcrawler is a film not without its comedic moments. Most of these stemming from Lou Bloom, who’s perhaps the year’s best psychopath, and that, in the wake of Gone Girl, isn’t a phrase to be thrown around lightly.
Approaching the aftermath of a violent car accident like one would a butterfly on a wall -tentatively, camera in hand- Bloom is swiftly established as a character drawn with an artistic passion to morbidity. One who addresses the living with all the emotional enthusiasm of a HR manager and yet wells up upon glimpsing a newsroom’s skyline backdrop -“It looks so real on TV”- a cold character warmed by all the wrong things.
Beside Gyllenhaal, director Dan Gilroy draws career high performances from his supporting cast -take the sublimely twitchy Riz Ahmed- and if you thought Fincher held the crown for 2014’s most twisted romance think again, as Gyllenhaal is pitted against a spectacularly on form Rene Russo as an LA newsroom’s icy producer Nina Romina; each using and being used by the other to increasingly discomforting effect. One scene between the two, involving modern film’s worst come-on attempt, swiftly deteriorates into blackmail, and strips Bloom of his entrepreneurial sheen and Nina of her stony defences – with Bloom giving sickening new meaning to the phrase “A friend is a gift you give yourself”.
Cinematically, Nightcrawler is an amalgamation of varying styles, ranging from the claustrophobic shots of Refyn’s Drive, to one particular sweeping shot of near Fast and Furious level car fetishism. Between these borrowed shots are those which motionlessly frame the city both from afar and up close in such a contemplative way that it becomes clear that Nightcrawler is a film which, much like its protagonist, is deeply in love with its city, however cruel the object of its affection.
“I like to say if you’re seeing me you’re having the worst day of your life” chimes Bloom. Whilst this may ring true with Nightcrawler’s assorted victims, for the audience, witnessing Gyllenhaal at work means having one of the most provoking, gripping and unforgivably entertaining cinematic experiences of the year.