Jake Gyllenhaal lost nearly 30 pounds to play a sociopath cameraman in Nightcrawler.

Jake Gyllenhaal lost nearly 30 pounds to play a sociopath cameraman in Nightcrawler.

Reel Reviews: Gyllenhaal creeps into role

Jake Gyllenhaal's creepy character in Nightcrawler learns that if it bleeds, it leads.

  • Nov. 7, 2014 5:00 a.m.

Lou Bloom (Jake Gyllenhaal) is a young, unemployed man living in Los Angeles. Desperate for employment he stumbles upon the sensationalist world of TV news gathering.

He buys a video camera and a police scanner and claws his way onto a local news broadcast. A news veteran, Nina (Rene Russo), impressed by his footage, encourages Bloom to get more. Bloom becomes part of the story when it becomes clear that he’ll do anything to get it.

We say, “If it bleeds, it leads.”

TAYLOR: Sociopaths are folks who have unusual thought processes that can  range from being anti-social to a full-blown psychopath. I’m not a psychologist but I’ve done a bit of research on the matter. I think we should call Bloom an American sociopath, because although he’s  usually unemotional, doesn’t seem to have any moral compass and displays obsessive behaviour, he’s harnessed his “gifts” into a burgeoning corporation and merely captures the crimes he’s allowing to unfold, rather than creating them. He doesn’t care about anyone or anything, other than getting the footage people are dying for.

HOWE: Well, he cares for nothing except getting a pay cheque.

I thought this was a well put together movie from the acting to the final cut. It is a very crisp, flashy film. Gyllenhaal comes across very well as the creepy character he is meant to portray and I know for sure I would not want to work for someone like him.

TAYLOR: I agree that it is well put together and especially well shot. Here is a film where most of it takes place at night, yet this film is clear, bright and full of colour. Not since Collateral has there been a night film this colourful.

Gyllenhaal’s performance is studied and masterful. His Bloom might be the character of the year. I certainly wouldn’t be surprised or displeased if he was nominated for best actor.

Bloom is a man who is scrawny and greasy, bug eyes staring at you until you feel uncomfortable. He is perpetually looking like he’s about to snap, yet deceptively brilliant, oddly charming. Just don’t fall short of satisfying his calculated desires, you may end up being on the six o’clock news.

HOWE: We also got some good supporting roles from Russo and Bloom’s assistant, Rick (Riz Ahmed).

Russo did a fine job as the overworked and stressed news veteran for the TV studio. I feel this has been one of her strongest roles in a very long time.

It’s the first time I have seen Ahmed, but I don’t think this was a one-off for him.  His Rick character complemented Gyllenhaal’s craziness by being calm, intimidated and trapped by his employer.

– Taylor gives Nightcrawler 4.5 plants out of 5.

– Howe gives it 4 handy cams out of 5.

Brian Taylor and Peter Howe are film reviewers based in Vernon, B.C. Their column runs in The Morning Star Friday and Sunday.