Last things first, there are four different union insignias at the end of “Nightcrawler:” Stage Handlers, Teamsters, Screenwriters/Actors, and Producers Guild. It’s a union-made film!
Most of the reviews call “Nightcrawler” a gorefest, made-for-Halloween, shocker. But there’s a lot more to it. Jake Gyllenhaal, who must forevermore be seen as a top-tier serious actor, plays a totally focused sociopath petty thief who changes careers when he becomes fascinated with freelance television reporting. Crafty and madly obsessive, there is nothing he won’t do to delivery gory crime scenes to television news.
Fortunately for Jake’s character, television news eagerly cooperates. For the moviewatcher, which is worse? Is Jake the lowest creature creeping around Los Angeles at night, or is television news the true monster?
Rene Russo plays a world-weary TV news editor who acts as Jake’s enabler. This is the first time I’ve seen her play anything less than glamorous, and she’s terrific. Her qualms about the obviously dangerous nightcrawler aren’t moral or ethical. Her only consideration, exactly equal to Jake’s only consideration, is her negotiating position.
Jake’s camera focuses on bloody victims and on active criminals, even murderers. The increasingly unsettling, chilling part of the movie doesn’t come from the accidents and crimes, but from the other side of the viewfinder. Nightcrawler is a fine work of art with extremely worthwhile content.
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