Dan Gilroy’s Nightcrawler held its world premiere last night to a sold out TIFF audience, offering filmgoers a thrilling glimpse into the seedy world of nocturnal freelance crime journalism on the streets of contemporary Los Angeles. The never-blinking eyes through which we enter this story belong to the intensely persistent and morally absent Lou Bloom (Jake Gyllenhaal in mesmerizing top form), a former thief who sees an opportunity to make a living chasing police calls and videotaping the victims of horrible accidents and acts of violence, which he then sells to local news stations. Filling out the rest of the cast is Rene Russo as a late-night news director and Bill Paxton as a veteran freelance videographer and rival to Bloom.
Gilroy – making his directorial debut from an original script – does a fantastic job of juggling the film’s overarching questions about journalistic morality without ever sacrificing story or character to prove a point. He merely observes, tracking Lou like a creature of the night who feeds off the blood of others. Things escalate as he gets better at the hunt and begins beating the police to the scene, quickly realizing that he can simply manipulate situations to suit his own personal needs. As he proceeds to play with the lives of those around him like pieces in a game of chess, we begin to wonder just how far he will go until it all catches up with him – until he starts to feel something. Like the lens of a camera, Lou remains cold and unflinching – an emotional void that never blinks or feels remorse. And when the film is over, we realize that Dan Gilroy’s true focus has always been us, casually watering the plants in our homes while images of violence and suffering fill our television screens.
Nightcrawler screens again today at 12:00pm, and a third time on Friday September 12th at 9:00pm. More information from TIFF abailable here.