I like movies and I really liked “Nightcrawler.”
I hate the local news and rarely watch. The Salt Lake area channels almost always lead with fires, serious accidents, shootings, gang activities, drug busts, interviews with distraught victims or witnesses . . . activities of this ilk. So I was prepared to like the movie Nightcrawler and wasn’t disappointed. It gets a strong recommendation from me.
The main character in the movie is Lou (played brilliantly by Jake Gyllenhaal) a construction-site thief turned videographer of nighttime crime and disaster. This guy is a totally despicable sociopath. He will do anything to get dramatic footage including invading and altering accident and crime scenes, and sabotaging the van of his competitor.
Lou talks in short sound bites or uses memorized lines that he has gleaned from the Internet. His sentences sound memorized and he says stupid things like “the word FEAR stands for . . . . .” Yet despite his canned manner of speaking, he is a master manipulator. His assistant is a near-homeless kid (played well by Riz Ahmed) who just needs a job and is willing to do about anything. While the assistant starts out with a conscience, he is eventually lured into Lou’s ethical black hole.
The market for Lou’s footage is a local L.A. television station. The grislier the footage the better. The morning new director, the aging Nina (played well by Rene Russo), is desperate and amoral. She is the perfect client for Lou. Eventually Nina becomes so hooked on Lou’s video footage that she is blackmailed into Lou’s bed.
The last dramatic event acted out in Nightcrawler demonstrates the depths to which Lou will go to get footage, the extent to which he has negatively influenced his assistant, and Nina’s utter desperation to get her morning newscast out of the rating’s gutter.
We hate Lou. He is a disgusting human being. But he is our creation. The local news wouldn’t show crime and tragedy porn if it wasn’t a rating’s winner. This movie should be our gut check, or at least our ethic’s check.
Nightcrawler is rated R for all kinds of reasons and was well reviewed (a 94 percent rating on rottentomatoes). It has had some box-office success.
Look for the nighttime shot of the L.A. Mormon temple in the opening credits.