It is an exceedingly rare event for a fledgling writer-director to achieve excellence with his or her first effort. With Nightcrawler, Dan Gilroy has achieved excellence.
Gilroy’s direction brilliantly creates a perfectly intense and thrilling atmosphere, which is only aided by James Newton Howard’s great, Drive-like score. Gilroy’s script goes the extra mile, developing the characters and not just leaving them to act as pawns of the storyline. As the film is in many ways a character study, this is especially true and noteworthy of the main supporting characters.
Nightcrawler was given little chance by the general public because it was advertised as a sort of horror movie. This is exceedingly unfortunate as, while it is certainly not easy to sit through at times, this has everything to do with its fascinating protagonist and nothing to do with cheap scare tactics.
This sociopathic protagonist, Louis Bloom, portrayed by Jake Gyllenhaal in a towering and fascinating 5-star performance of an intensely unlikable, profoundly watchable character, drives the plot through his gradual descent. The exploration of the depths to which he will sink to get the next big break is both nerve-racking and effortlessly watchable. It is easily the best performance of Gyllenhaal’s career and will be a hard one to top by anyone else I see.
The supporting cast, anchored by the solid, and sometimes heartbreaking, performances of Rene Russo and Reza Ahmed, ably-handles their parts.
At this unfortunately early stage in my movie-viewing efforts this year, this is my favorite movie yet, and it will take something rather special to unseat it. We’ll have to see if the consensus choice, Birdman, can do it.