Call it a black comedy, call it a searing indictment of local television news, Nightcrawler is a glorious train wreck of a movie you can’t look away from. Nothing’s wasted in Nightcrawler: there’s no fluff, there’s not one scene or moment out of place. It’s all about Louis Bloom, an extremely terrible person with an ambition to make money that is literally unstoppable.
There’s a dreadful inevitability to the film, which is both its greatest flaw and its real strength. You know where the story’s going. There are no surprises. Whenever there’s a choice to be made that an ethical person would find troubling, Louis jumps in with both feet and a creepy smile. There’s only one path for Louis, so as a viewer, you have to just sit back and marvel.
A man without a past to speak of, Louis is bizarrely opaque, despite that every scene has him in it. We know he’s motivated by money, we know he’s blissfully free of the slightest of moral qualms, but that’s it. He speaks in the blandest corporate-speak you’ve ever heard, full of hysterical cliche and non-sequitur, and occasionally dips into a disquieting kind of menace that you have to think about to make sure you heard correctly. Jake Gyllenhall does a near-perfect job of portraying him in all of his insectile charm.
Some movies live up to the hype, some don’t. Nightcrawler does. It’s not quite a five-star movie, but if you want to spend some quality time in front of a screen, you’ll have to go pretty far to find something better. Four stars out of five.