Friday, 15 May 2015

I'd Rather Be Running With the Shadows of the Night

I was looking for something to watch and found myself looking through recent additions to Netflix. I was surprised to find Nightcrawler on there. This was a film I had not given much attention when it came out, but I remembered a lot of my fellow bloggers were raving about it so I thought maybe I'd give it a chance and see what all the fuss was about. After all, everyone else seemed to like it, and it was nominated for Best Original Screenplay. It also seemed to have a decent premise as well, which seemed interesting. The environment could have made for a great setting too. It's a real shame this one didn't live up to what I was promised.

Lou Bloom (Jake Gyllenhaal) is a down-on-his luck individual trying to find some form of job with which to make money. By total chance, he happens to witness a car accident and encounters a man filming it. This inspires him to (illegally) obtain a camcorder of his own and begin recording gruesome incidents around Los Angeles. He then sells these recordings to a local news station where he works with Nina (Rene Russo), a woman who does... something news-related (it's not really very well explained). He then travels around town videotaping crimes and accidents for the news and starts to use ethically questionable tactics.

Seems okay in theory, but I find myself wondering just what it was my fellow bloggers saw that I didn't. I really wanted to like Nightcrawler but to be honest, I found this movie kinda boring. Jake Gyllenhaal's talent is wasted on a dull character who has no emotional investment, and I can't say I had much interest in Rene Russo either. The environment itself also proved a disappointment. I was hoping for something along the lines of Taxi Driver, where the nighttime environment creates an interesting world and adds to the tense atmosphere, but I didn't get that at all. What I did get was some guy with no real personality running around with a camcorder photographing crime scenes.

The actual crime scenes themselves were quite convincing, so I can give the movie credit for that, but if I just wanted to see those it would be far easier to just look up pictures of the real thing. I did also have some concerns about the apparent lack of women in this film, since Nina didn't seem to be that prominent a character and most of the other women who appeared with victims of crimes and accidents. I saw not a single female cop or female firefighter at any of the crime scenes depicted. Maybe I'm crazy for calling out the movie on that area, since I don't know anyone else who is bothered by these types of things, but I did find it unsettling.

It's a shame really, because Nightcrawler could have been an interesting movie, with a compelling world and some intriguing ideas, but in the end it felt more like a poor man's Taxi Driver. In fact, don't bother with this one at all, just watch Taxi Driver. That is a film that is able to do something worthwhile with the nightime world of an urban environment. It is actually an interesting film with a compelling narrative, even if it might lack any female cops (which is probably due to the time it was made). Nightcrawler had some potential but didn't seem to use it, which leaves me asking this question: why do so many people like this movie?


  1. I'm with you -- this was a solid movie, in many ways, but I just didn't love it the way everyone else seems to.

  2. I respectfully disagree, as I thought this flick was incredible. Lou, in my mind, is anything but a boring character. He's way too explosive!

  3. Um...yeah...Lou is one of the most interesting characters in film last year. Like, I was ready to hate this movie, but it was really, really REALLY good. I didn't want it to end.

    And John, I totally get your fight for female characters, but this is a film that really consisted of four people, and one of them (and a VERY prominent one) was a female, who did have a lot to do, had a real character arc and made a serious impact.

    But we all have our own opinions.