Study Break: ‘Nightcrawler’ review

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Brilliant acting, complex characters and well-written dialogue keep “Nightcrawler” from being a little too much of a sleeper at almost two hours. Though the film is worth seeing, it might not be the best to catch at the theater with a date or kids because of its content and length.

The movie, one of the 2014 Gotham Independent Film Awards nominees, is about Lou Bloom (Jake Gyllenhaal), a man desperate for work who becomes a “nightcrawler” in Los Angeles — a journalist who obsessively monitors the city’s crimes in the hopes of catching the next big story. After he is thrust into this competitive, dangerous lifestyle, he realizes just how over-the-top dedicated he can be.

Gyllenhaal expresses a very intricate character in Bloom, who the audience gets invested in due to the complexity of his mindset. His wide eyes, factual dialect, cold demeanor and relentless quest for greatness are intriguing.

This character building is what carries the movie along, as well as its original plot line and story ideas, thanks to the film’s debut director and writer, Dan Gilroy.

The cinematography seems to represent a minimalist approach, as most of the movie is filmed at night in an abnormally empty LA and the only other locations are Bloom’s dimly-lit apartment and the newsroom, where he works the late-night shift. That is where he often meets with TV news veteran Nina Romina, played by Rene Russo.

Another standout role is Gyllenhaal’s intern Rick, portrayed by British actor and rapper Riz Ahmed, also nominated by the Gotham awards for his performance.

Rarely does an actor seem like they have actually lived on the streets. But Ahmed accomplished this believably as a homeless man who is basically thrown into this new hardcore world of crime journalism, forced to do things he doesn’t want to out of a need for money.

This movie has its moments of greatness, but also a few scenes that seem a bit pointless or go on too long. But those great moments definitely make it worth the 117 minutes.

Despite Bloom being an obsessive lunatic who blurs the lines between reporting stories and becoming a story, audience members can end up learning some useful lessons about the dangers of letting drive and passion overrun their careers from Gyllenhaal’s character.

Theater-goers don’t really want to take their dates or kids to this one unless they want to take a chance of royally creeping them out. But it’s definitely worth taking the time to rent.

Just try not to look past the unethical actions of the characters in this film. It’s tempting to be inspired to go out and start something new and daring the minute the movie ends.

Photo licensed by Creative Commons.

Jeffrey Fox can be reached at [email protected] or @FoxyJeff on Twitter.