Nightcrawler (2014)

News happens all the time. If you watch HLN, CNN, Fox News, or pretty much any other 24-hour news channel, you may not know this. Those networks recycle hype about divisive topics or just create divisiveness and then bring on two people who hold somewhat opposing views (or ludicrously opposing views in the best case scenario) and let them duke it out. Now, imagine a local news broadcast is looking to get viewers. What do you do? You hire freelancers to get raw, gritty footage of grizzly crimes and accidents and get it to the public first.

Enter Jake Gyllenhaal. He's a strange bird with no social skills, no real skills, delusions of grandeur, and virtually no filters. He sees how other people interact, and he puts on an act to try to emulate what they are doing to try and be successful in his own right. With his drive, it's actually kind of odd that he hasn't already ascended to CEO of a bank or something. I mean, he's pretty clearly a sociopath, and studies indicate that those personalities tend to do very well in business. Jake's character is creepy, and he comes across as creepy - spot on. Jake is figuring out that he can just show up to crime scenes and take pictures and video in order to get a good payout - especially from the most struggling newscast in the area.

Jake takes a guy under his wing in this new enterprise, even though he doesn't really know what he's doing, and he fumblingly and distressingly follows people around who know what they are doing so that he can learn. The way that Jake does it causes the audience to feel humiliated on his behalf, as it does not seem to be an emotion that he can feel. The awkward situations where he winds up have no effect on him, but the audience is just cringing in their seats. That's what the director and writer wanted, and that's what they deliver.

Riz Ahmed plays the cash-strapped guy who Jake hires, and he has as difficult a time dealing with Jake's personality as anyone. But Jake, as a skilled sociopath, is a very good liar, and he convinces Riz that his operation is much larger than it actually is, and he leads Riz to believe that there will be full time employment after an undefined period of unpaid internship (during which, he be treated very poorly and criticized constantly).

Need a romantic interest that doesn't really fit into the story well? Rene Russo shows up, and she's the producer of the late newscasts for the under-performing station. She acts well enough, but there's never any actual chemistry between their characters, and the whole thing doesn't make sense. I don't know why it was needed, other than to provide Jake's character with another opportunity to  be the powerful person in a relationship.

Direction was very good
Acting was superb
Cinematography was good
Story was very good
Dialogue was very good

Bottom Line: A very good and interesting film that draws you in to the characters and situation.

4.25/5

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