Nightcrawler Final Essay

Submitted By iansilverm
Words: 1442
Pages: 6

Ian Silverman
CTCS 466
Film Paper
Nightcrawler, starring Jake Gyllenhaal and directed by Dan Gilroy, is a neo-noir film released just in time to creep out audiences for Halloween. The movie chronicles the underground world of nightcrawling, the unscrupulous business of documenting someone else’s horror and selling it for profit. The main character, Lou Bloom (Jake Gyllenhaal), is a sleazy thief. We meet him early on, peddling manhole covers and chain link fence. He’s an underachiever, even among low lifes, but his sociopathic psyche aspires to be something bigger and better. Those dreams are realized when he stumbles upon the world of freelance videographers, the bottom feeders of paparazzi, capturing the underground world of L.A. crime. Lou believes he’s found his calling when his first piece of raw footage captures the bloody and dying moments of a father and husband, a white man out on an errand for his sick wife, surely the victim of inner city crime. It’s the type of scene that makes you uncomfortable, takes your breath, but you can’t look away. Lou learns quickly from his first encounter with a hard bargaining, veteran newswoman, Nina played by Renee Russo, that fear sells. Nina pays Lou for the footage and encourages him to bring her more just like it. Nina, although cloaked in a suit and a network resume, is charting her life via the same broken moral compass that guides Lou. Nina is a modern day Diana Christensen, Faye Dunaway’s character in Network. Nina doesn’t strike a deal with terrorist, but she will unabashedly pay for fear. Nina doesn’t mince words when she tells Lou that footage of a stabbing in Compton is useless to her. She needs victims from Hancock Park. She wants white suburbanites to wake up and gasp at the inner city crime bleeding into their neighborhoods. Nina wants to break stories that viewers will be talking about all day and she knows Lou is willing to take a close up on the scenes that will cause viewers to stay tuned just long enough to be too frightened to turn away. Nina is a fading beauty, and her resume is on the descent as well. Sweep weeks are just around the corner and she needs numbers or she’ll be out of another job. Nightcrawler is as much satire as it is neo-noir. It shines a light on the culture of Los Angeles local news. The producers are ruthless and the news anchors are puppets, baiting the viewing with sensationalism. Nina promotes a mission of capturing the attention of the audience over providing news. To Nina, truth is collateral damage. Lou believes Nina’s tutelage and influence will bring him success and fame, and Nina believes Lou might save her crumbling career. Lou establishes an exclusive contract with Nina. Nina encourages him and tells him he has a keen eye for this medium. Lou savors her attention and wants more, including intimacy. However, Lou lacks all insight and doesn’t realize that Nina only finds his footage sexy. She wants him to perform on the streets and not in her bed. Despite his sexual frustration, Lou pushes on and believes he can gain the upper hand by making himself irreplaceable to Nina. He does just that and proves that Nina’s is willing to pay any price for his crime porn. Lou has an endless catalogue of truisms. He’s a self-proclaimed scholar of the Internet and has mastered the best business memes and affirmations one can get for free online. Lou is a thief by nature, and he steals memes like his steals dignity and ideas. Joe Lauder, played deftly by Bill Paxton, is Lou’s competition and the prototype upon which Lou has developed his business model. Joe has a navigator and driver to get him to the scene of crimes. In turn, Lou hires a lackey to read his Google Maps. Joe hires a second team to cover more territory and eventually Lou does the same. While Joe was indispensable to Lou in unwittingly teaching him the tricks of the trade, Lou believes Joe is ultimately an obstacle in to his success and soon we see Joe’s van