Name: Nightcrawler (2014)
IMDb: link to IMDb
Genres: Drama, Crime. Country of Origin: USA.
Cast: Jake Gyllenhaal as Louis Bloom, Rene Russo as Nina Romina, Bill Paxton as Joe Loder, Kevin Rahm as Frank Kruse, Riz Ahmed as Rick, Kathleen York as Jackie, Ann Cusack as Linda, Kent Shocknick as Kent Shocknick, Carolyn Gilroy as Jenny.
Written and directed by: First time director Dan Gilroy [writer of The Bourne Legacy (2012), Real Steel (2011), Freejack (1992)] Dan's twin John Gilroy was the editor of record for the film, and his brother Tony Gilroy was one of the producers, as was Jake Gyllenhaal.
The initial tableaux: It's night time in Los Angeles, and Louis Bloom is out acquiring copper wire, chain link fence, and manhole covers to sell to a scrap operator. That is, he steals these materials from insufficiently secure sites. He also listens to audio courses on entrepreneurship as he cruises the city looking for weakness. He's not above beating the hell out of a security guard in order to get free of him, but more to steal his pricy watch.
Louis is clearly looking for something more monetarily rewarding. By chance he stops at a recent auto accident that might get worse if the car explodes before the CHP can get the driver out of the car. A freelance TV film crew (Joe Loder and his assistant) show up, as if on cue, and start filming. Louis starts the process of learning new skills. He observes the handling of the situation that involves cops, aggressive reporters, victim(s), the excitement of jeopardy, straight up corruption, electronic surveillance, and the hungry market of TV news. When he sees the incident on TV at home the next morning, he's hooked.
Delineation of conflicts: There is competition among the freelance film camera crews (stringers), especially those who film crime oriented events for television. Louis enters that competition. He catches the attention of a morning news director at an LA TV station, Nina Romina. His relationship with her is stormy, but they both gain from it. As his success grows (better car, better camera, better access), Louis becomes impatient for more success. He moves incrementally from pure observer to active participant in the crime scenes. The jostling with other stringers continues, and his self-created legal jeopardy increases.
Resolution: Character issues lead to consequences, but where do those consequences land?
One line summary: Freelance thief becomes a freelance TV cameraman.
a. Cinematography: 10/10 Well done.
b. Sound: 9/10 Fine.
c. Acting: 8/10 Veteran actors Jake Gyllenhaal, Rene Russo, and Bill Paxton were quite good, as expected. I had not seen Riz Ahmed before, but I liked his performance. Many of the other characters could have been played by cardboard cutouts.
d. Screenplay: 7/10 As a technical exercise, this film was brilliant. As a reviewer, I applaud it. Following the rise of a deeply flawed sociopath was executed by masterful leadership. Intellectually I'm glad such movies are still made.
On the other hand, would I recommend this film to a friend? No, unless the friend knows how to eat bitter and knows that sometimes high quality films are difficult to watch. What character would I identify with? None. What character would I empathise with? None.
Final rating: 8/10