Nightcrawler (Film Review)


Every so often, a film comes around that feels perfectly etched in time as a relevant, poignant, and fearless commentary on the state of the modern world. For the world of journalism in the 21st century, Nightcrawler is that film, much like Network caustically attacked television in 1976. With the breadth of technology readily available in this day and age, anyone with a camera, a computer, and determination can become a journalist. The implications of that are staggering and frankly frightening, and Nightcrawler parlays these fears into an immensely gripping thriller which left me horrified in a way reserved for only the most effective films.

A current of biting satire courses through the veins of this taut tale, forcing us to realize that the world created by Nightcrawler is one which is based on the very real “marketplace of news” which leads to competition, over-reliance on graphic images, and the use of shock tactics to compel viewers. This is an unapologetic cautionary tale of the moral travesties this journalistic emphasis creates, and I had a pit in my stomach throughout the entirety of the movie.

Set in Los Angeles, Nightcrawler follows the rise of sociopathic Lou Bloom (Jake Gyllenhaal) from a small-time criminal to a renowned video journalist. While driving one night, Bloom sees a fiery car accident. His morbid curiosity with the blazing wreckage leads him to approach the scene, where he meets a “nightcrawler” (Bill Paxton), a freelance videographer who uses police scanners to beat the major news networks to the scenes of grisly accidents and crimes. After collecting the footage, he immediately calls up a local channel and sells the brief footage for hundreds of dollars. Inspired by this encounter, Bloom buys himself a camcorder and a police scanner, and begins seeking out the most brutal and heinous crime scenes.

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