Nightcrawler (2014)

(Netflix Streaming, November 2015) The concept of the anti-hero is retooled with vigour in Nightcrawler, thanks to a terrific collaboration between writer/director Dan Gilroy and another exceptional performance by Jake Gyllenhaal.  Taking place in modern Los Angeles (now illuminated at night by bright-white LED streetlamps) where competing news stations are literally out for blood, Nightcrawler is first and foremost the character study of a modern sociopath, one whose ambition is fueled by personal-growth Internet sites, a complete lack of morals and a world that gleefully applauds the result of his efforts.  Gyllenhaal is phenomenal in the lead hustler role, portraying a deeply wrong character with almost-complete detachment: the film’s best scene is a “simple” dinner date in which a human relationships is dissected to its most self-interested axioms.  Otherwise, much of the film is spent in the streets of Los Angeles at night, chasing accidents and selling video footage to the highest bidder.  It’s a nightmarish but well-executed film, Gilroy showing talent at his first directorial effort –and showcasing his wife Renee Russo in one of the best roles she’s had in years.  There’s quite a bit of depth in the way Nightcrawler also engages with issues of degenerate capitalism, social voyeurism and media fearmongering.  It’s quite a film, but also quite an experience in how it refuses to see things from outside its lead character’s perspective.  Don’t be surprised if you want to shower after watching it.

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