Thoughts: If It Bleeds, It Leads – Nightcrawled

Right up front, here’s the disclaimer. The only reason I wanted to watch the movie was due to its nomination. I have a special place for “Original Screenplays”, as according to me this shows true talent and something that defines a movie as a work of art. Woody Allen, Ben Affleck, Quentin Tarantino are some of the famous names that have won this award and their ability to spin a yarn is renowned and well recognized. I am not a Jake Gyllenhaal or Rene Russo fan and I couldn’t tell a Dan Gilroy story from a fairy tale, thus Nightcrawler falls under the category of “Oscar nominated hai, must be good”

So going ahead, as already established, the story is its selling proposition. The movie is set in the seedy dark and unhinged part of modern-day Los Angeles. Lou Bloom (a masterful performance from Jake Gyllenhaal), is an ambitious young man desperate for work. His initial frank conduct shows him as a no holds barred, I’ll-do-whatever-it-takes, kind of person and with his grit he is desperate to find his way ahead. In his lone mission to find purpose, he stumbles upon the high-speed world of L.A. crime journalism and finds his calling in “Nightcrawling”. For the uninitiated, Nightcrawling involves filming crashes, fires, murder and other mayhem all without the “warning graphic footage” label and selling it to anyone who will pay for it. As you can imagine, the more the gore, the more the money!

Lou, muscles into the cut-throat and highly dangerous realm of Nightcrawling – where each police siren equals a possible bonanza payout and the pain and blood of the victims are directly proportional to dollars earned. Now filming the pain aside, Lou needs a television station willing to air his creatively shot footage; Enter Rene Russo as Nina. Nina is a trouper of the blood-sport that is local TV news. She is struggling to make her ratings and Lou with his Quentin Tarentino-ish gore captured on camera makes her see the money! However, the longer Lou delves into his victim chasing ordeal, he begins to blur the line between observer and participant and aims to become the star of his own story.

This movie was both fun and terrifying. Jake Gyllenhaal’s performance as Lou Bloom could even have earned him a nomination. His frank demeanor and cool as cucumber aura will definitely frighten, thrill, impress and worry you. What this film does best is not make you particularly like Lou Bloom but it make you wonder what he is willing to do next. His entire persona coupled with the amazing monologue style rants written for him make him easily the cream topping in this ice cream sundae.

Keeping in mind that the movie revolves around a strong male protagonist, makes the work for the remaining cast all the more formidable. Rene Russo as the “humane” element; the hard working, back to the wall but never backing down television producer delivers a stellar performance. Even Riz Ahmed playing the overworked and under-appreciated assistant to Lou holds his own vis-à-vis his mentor and boss.

Dan Gilroy has made a genius first film. This dark comedy has beautifully captured not only the landscape (easy-peasy) and the action but even the finer aspects of the emotion and the feelings of the characters. Dan Gilroy most definitely understands fear and comedy and has amalgamated the two brilliantly in this 2 hour ride. As an additional mention, the cinematography is also fantastic, night-time LA has not looked this good since Drive. (Ryan gosling starrer in 2011)

Just to add a new perspective to the story, “Nightcrawler” also showcases the contemporary exploration of journalistic ethics and how news channels, who were competing with each other for eyeballs and are now competing with the more rapidly-updated social media websites, are trying to manipulate news in the name of ratings. News programs, like sitcoms, reality shows, and sports events, are a game of numbers and those numbers are ratings and it is these ratings that makes the wheels go round – something that “Nightcrawler” makes depressingly clear to us.

All in all, this is a film filled with sheer and raw velocity and keeps you gripped to your seat for its entire gallop. It is not only an impressive first film but an intense and imposing story all around and although it might have missed out on the Oscar nod, I wouldn’t want you to miss out on this masterpiece.



2 responses to this post.

  1. I fell asleep within 20 minutes of starting the movie! 😦


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