Review: Gyllenhaal's 'Nightcrawler' Is Pulp With A Purpose

Oct 31, 2014
Originally published on October 31, 2014 6:42 am
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Transcript

RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:

And now to a movie review. Actor Jake Gyllenhaal has been in many memorable films - "Brokeback Mountain," "End Of Watch" - film critic Kenneth Turan, though, says "Nightcrawler" is the best work he's ever done.

KENNETH TURAN, BYLINE: "Nightcrawler" is pulp with a purpose. It's melodrama grounded in a disturbing reality. The theme of the film, written and directed by Dan Gilroy, is that if it bleeds, it leads culture of local television news. It's a world where the words what you are about to see is graphic are both a warning and a come on. Gyllenhaal plays a videographer who trawls the streets of Los Angeles, looking for violent situations to film and sell to TV stations. He catches a break when he connects with Nina, played by Rene Russo, a news director who likes his style.

(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "NIGHTCRAWLER")

JAKE GYLLENHAAL: (As Lou Bloom) I'm Lou Bloom. I have some footage for sale.

RENE RUSSO: (As Nina Romina) A stringer?

GYLLENHAAL: (As Lou Bloom) What?

RUSSO: (As Nina Romina) Who do you work for?

GYLLENHAAL: (As Lou Bloom) At the moment, I work for myself.

TURAN: Lou was untroubled by other people's definitions of reality, and he burns with a terrible and terrifying desperation. We never find out why he's this way, but we do come to understand that there's nothing he's not capable of, no line he will not cross if he feels it will get him where he wants to go. And where he wants to go is where Nina wants to send him.

(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "NIGHTCRAWLER")

RUSSO: (As Nina Romina) We find our viewers are more interested in urban crime creeping into the suburbs.

TURAN: That means white victims, preferably with nonwhite perpetrators.

(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "NIGHTCRAWLER")

RUSSO: (As Nina Romina) The best and clearest way that I can phrase it to you Lou, to capture the spirit of what we air is think of our newscast as a screaming woman running down the street with her throat cut.

TURAN: The melodrama in "Nightcrawler" increases as the film moves towards its conclusion. But there's no denying that something real is in the wind here something about us as a society, how we talk and what we value. No matter what we think of Lou and his exploits, it's hard to deny that the world he thrives in is the one we made.

MONTAGNE: Kenneth Turan reviews films for MORNING EDITION and the LA Times. This is MORNING EDITION from NPR News. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.