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By Megan Bianco
Movie fanatics may strongly suspect Nightcrawler writer/director Dan Gilroy’s inspiration for the film came to him post-double feature screening of Martin Scorsese’s The King of Comedy and Nicolas Refn’s Drive. The screenwriter’s first effort behind the camera is the project he’s been waiting for and a career turnaround for lead Jake Gyllenhaal. Nightcrawler, not to be mistaken as an X-men spin-off, is one of the creepiest, but essential thrillers of 2014.
Set primarily at night all over Los Angeles, a man named Louis Bloom (Gyllenhaal) has an obsession with succeeding in life, no matter the means or medium. When he discovers a demand for freelance camera work by nighttime television news outlets, Louis finds his calling. He follows an older cameraman, Joe (Bill Paxton), hires homeless assistant Rick (Riz Ahmed) and convinces TV news director Nina (Rene Russo) to air his footage. Very quickly the lines between ethics and honesty become blurred as Louis makes a reputation for himself.
Nightcrawler was released on Halloween, fittingly, with the dark atmosphere and tone, not to mention Gyllenhaal’s “freakiness.” The casting of Paxton and Russo, along with a ’80s inspired score, brings a retro feel to the film, reminiscent of 1980s thrillers. Gyllenhaal, who lost an alarming 25 pounds to fit the desperation of his character, has added another great performance to his portfolio, alongside Donnie Darko and Brokeback Mountain. Gilroy’s steady character study and dedication to stellar cinematography keeps viewers transfixed throughout the picture.