Monday, December 1, 2014

Nightcrawler

Starring: Jake Gyllenhaal, Rene Russo, Bill Paxton, Riz Ahmed
Director: Dan Gilroy
Running Time: 1 hour, 57 minutes

Rating: R

In "Nightcrawler," Jake Gyllenhaal is possibly the sexiest creep the big screen has ever seen. It's hard not to be mesmerized by his blue eyes, charming smirk and dark hair (especially when it's twisted into a bun, oi!) but unfortunately, my high hopes for this film were not met. I imagined it would be in the same vein as last year's hit "Prisoners," or perhaps even my favorite Gyllanhaal film "Brothers". Alas, it was entirely too long and at times oddly reminiscent of "Network." In the first 15 minutes, I thought I had the plot figured out. I was way off. This tour de force by Gyllenhaal will earn him several nominations this season, but that's about all this movie will get. It won't be on at the theatre another week.

Gyllenhaal plays Louis Bloom, an outcast with terribly awkward social skills and just enough nervous tics and oddities that you know immediately not to trust him. It's hard to put your finger on what's wrong with him, but something is definitely off. He's looking for work, perhaps a purpose, and will do just about anything to make a name for himself. Enter Bill Paxton, everyone's favorite twister chaser/Titanic historian/polygamist. Paxton plays a stringer, a freelance journalist of sorts, who inspires Bloom to become one as well. He and his partner Rick (a fabulous performance by Riz Ahmed) begin selling their footage to a dying news station, and questioning their morals each time they arrive on the scene of a brutal crime.

Rene Russo (you read me right, where has she been? OH, being married to the director.) is brilliant as Nina, the TV station manager who recognizes Bloom's talent as well as his creep factor. Suggestions of blackmail and foul play make for an incredibly uncomfortable confrontation at a Mexican restaurant between these two. This tension leads to one of the best "behind the scenes" scene I've ever seen (wow, 3 times in 1 sentence!) Getting a taste of what it's like in the news control room during a broadcast is something I'm not familiar with at all, and it was incredibly intriguing.

You'll be close to passing out during the final climactic 15 minutes. I was holding my breath, clutching my armrest, tapping my feet - it's seriously intense for a while. But there is definitely some humor in this film - you just have to appreciate dark comedy. And for a mentally unstable person, Bloom actually makes some very thoughtful observations about running a business and surviving in a dog-eat-dog world. I'd save your $5.75 - $18 (depending on what city you're in) and hold out for the other guaranteed hits this season.

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