Job hunting sucks. It doesn’t matter how old you are because it never gets easier. The longer you go without a job the more likely you are to start stretching the truth on your resume, maybe you’ll exaggerate your abilities during interviews; if you’re desperate enough you might do almost anything to get a job. The problem is that there are probably a hundred more applicants just like you, lean and hungry for a job, applicants like Louis Bloom.
Except, Lou Bloom isn’t your typical applicant.
He claims to be an exceptionally hard worker and he values honesty and loyalty in a company but don’t let that fool you, there is more Norman Bates than Norman Rockwell in him. This is the protagonist that we’re given in Nightcrawler but there is nothing to like or root for in Lou Bloom and the movie knows it as we watch Lou enter and thrive in the world of accident journalism; the bloodier the incident, the richer the victim, and the bigger the paycheck that Lou will get. Jake Gyllenhaal loses himself in the role of Lou Bloom, an unblinking and lying sociopath who would probably be friends with Heath Ledger’s Joker and Christian Bale’s Patrick Bateman if they didn’t end up murdering each other first. Gyllenhaal has rarely made acting misstep and has proved his acting chops in a wide range of films such as Donnie Darko, Brokeback Mountain, and Zodiac and hopefully when awards season rolls around he can finally start to get the recognition that he deserves.
It’s a shame though that the rest of the film doesn’t quite have the same energy as its lead role. A film with a main character like Louis Bloom will undoubtedly have an orthodox plot but sadly Nightcrawler wastes a lot of potential with a pace that has seemingly been left to idle. The problem is not that the plot is slow but that Lou exists in a vacuum, a passive environment, where nothing seems to interact with the main character. This might be a deliberate decision, since the film is a darkly comic satire on fear mongering news and audiences’ passive acceptance of it, but overall it detracts from the film and Gyllenhaal’s electrifying performance. The supporting cast is fine, Bill Paxton as a 80’s reject rival cameraman being a standout, but are mostly one-dimensional and are easily overshadowed by Gyllenhaal’s performance. There are a good number of standout scenes, such as a hilarious and terrifying dinner date and the climax of the film is truly riveting, but it’s a shame that such a standout performance is not supported by a better movie. “Nightcrawler” is out now in select theaters.