I was expecting ‘Nightcrawler’ to be rather unnerving in tone, and it certainly did not disappoint. Dan Gilroy’s directorial debut is an exceptionally dark and twisted thriller, which throws up several questions of morality, presenting an interesting predicament for myself as a viewer. A well-balanced, powerful plot is complimented by slick action scenes, tense dialogue and an overriding sense of realism, enough to promote ‘Nightcrawler’ to the upper echelons of the films released in the past year, if not the past decade. The Academy, I’m afraid, have made a terrible mistake in failing to recognise the true brilliance of this film.

Lou Bloom, portrayed by Jake Gyllenhaal in an impeccable all-round performance, is a nightcrawler – a freelance journalist constantly in search of the latest big story, be it a car crash or a multiple homicide, with the intention of recording camera footage and selling it to the highest bidding news outlet. Lou Bloom is not your average Joe however. Mercilessly, he works his way up the ladder, leaving his peers in his wake, often with tragic consequences. Bloom is such a divisive character, leaving me questioning whether to empathise with him or despise him for his ruthless, brutal methods. He is a clever and amusing man, and indeed at several points, I found myself chuckling aloud to his witty cynicisms, yet equally, I was stunned as I witnessed the dark and menacing behaviour of the mysterious Lou Bloom. From his speech to his actions, even his ominous slicked-back, jet-black hair, everything about Bloom betrayed a distorted image of an underlying villain.

As the personification of the battle between morality and career, of which Bloom certainly sides in favour of his career, he is guilty of rather callous and inhumane behaviour. Every example of which, is captured on camera by Lou himself, a man prepared to create his own news if necessary. Bloom remains one step ahead of everybody else, by means of hacking into the emergency services radio system, allowing him to be the first man on the scene to capture any footage. One aspect of the film that I thought was portrayed brilliantly was the cut-throat nature of the media working community where people are sacked and left behind without second thought. Lou’s love interest, Nina, is testament to this notion. Having never lasted more than two years in a job, Nina is under great pressure from her employers as her second anniversary looms. Bloom utilises the systems and pressures he is working amongst,   manipulating and blackmailing whenever he spots an opportunity for advantage. It could be argued that the unforgiving, uncompromising nature of the industry forces Lou to be the person that he becomes, but I believe his malevolent nature is more deep rooted within him rather than a response to his situation.

I thought Rene Russo’s performance as Nina, was definitely worthy of acclaim. She perfectly portrays the role of the professional matriarch, riddled with personal and professional insecurity. As the star of the show however, I cannot praise Gyllenhaal highly enough for his fantastic rendition of the modern day monster. The fact that I was unable to pin down a love-hate opinion of Lou Bloom, despite his barbaric actions, is testament to Gyllenhaal’s performance. Reminiscent of his role as Detective Loki in ‘Prisoners’, Gyllenhaal maintained a stone-faced coldness, cutting the form of a character devoid of any human characteristics. This is a performance to be heralded as the defining and outstanding feature of a truly superb film, a compelling performance which lasted in my memory for a long while after. The only negative I can muster up, is my personal issue with the conclusion of the film, which may well be a result of my reluctance for the film to actually end. As I stated before, I really do believe The Academy Awards panel have overlooked worthy contenders for both the Best Picture and Best Actor category.

If you are looking for a bit of light, evening entertainment, then I strongly recommend you steer well clear of this film. However, if you want a provocative and thrilling, psychological experience that will throw you one way then the other, making you laugh and recoil in horror at the same time, then look no further. ‘Nightcrawler’ is a true masterpiece of modern cinema.

Rating: ★★★★½