Nightcrawler Review

Nightcrawler (2014) written/directed by Dan Gilroy.

Starring: Jake Gyllenhaal, Rennie Russo, Riz Ahmed and Bill Paxton.

Synopsis: Lou Bloom (Jake Gyllenhaall) is desperate for work, and is caught stealing from a construction site when we see him for the first time. After Lou witnesses a freelance film crew at a crash scene, it inspires him to purchase a second hand video camera and police radio scanner.

After Lou films footage of a carjacking, he attempts to sell this to a local TV station. Morning News Director Nina (Renne Russo) buys the footage, and this starts an intriguing relationship between the two. As Lou’s business grows, he acquires the help of an assistant named Rick (Riz Ahmed) who was desperately seeking work. However, things begin to take a sinister turn when the boundaries of Lou’s new job are crossed.

Gyllenhaal is unnerving and sinister as the story’s protagonist, and this is possibly the best performance he has given to date. He is very interesting to watch despite various cringy exchanges between himself and other characters. This seems due to his lack of people skills. Lou reminded me somewhat of Robert De Niro in The King of Comedy (1983) with his delusional characteristics, but his complete determination to be successful. With Gyllenhaal’s dramatic weight loss, his usual muscular physique has been transformed to make him look extremely gaunt. This effectively adds to the sinister look he has.

The supporting cast also do a good job. This is the first movie I have seen Rennie Russo in for a long time, but she still carries the sex appeal she had throughout her younger years. Her character Nina’s desperation at trying to stay on top is conveyed with her willingness to push Gyllenhaal’s edgy reportings onto mainstream television.

This story makes a number of statements about contemporary news reporting – one being the boundaries between ethical against what makes for a breaking story. This is explored throughout the movie, with Gyllenhaal consistently shunning the morally correct thing to do in favour of what will make for a better and financially benifiting news story.

The story’s themes are extremely thought provoking. I left the movie thinking this probably happens daily in the media, with camera crews doing anything to get a decent vantage of their subjects.

Writer/Director Dan Gilroy did a fantastic job with this movie, and this has deservedly been nominated for an Academy Award for Best Original Screenplay. Gilroy has managed to directed and write a compelling story with equally compelling performances from his cast.

Overall, I was intrigued throughout this movie at the characters, the plot and themes the filmmaker was conveying. It is one of the best movie’s I have seen over the past year and is well worth a watch.

By Robert Spence

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Enemy Review

Enemy (2013) directed by Denis Villeneuve. Starring Jake Gyllenhaal, Mélanie Laurent and Sarah Gadon. This is loosely based on the José Saramago novel The Double.

Synopsis: After Adam Bell (Gyllenhaal) spots his doppelganger in a film, he seeks him out with some interesting circumstances.

The story begins with college History teacher Adam, and his routine filled life. We are shown that he does the same thing over and over through the iteration of the same lesson in class. We are also shown this through his girlfriend Mary (Mélanie Laurent) and their routine love making.

After renting a film one night, Adam notices his exact double playing a small role in the background. Panicked, Adam digs deeper and sees every film his double is in. He finds out the actor’s name is Anthony St. Claire (also played by Gyllenhaal) and after much deliberation, they both meet up. Anthony’s pregnant wife Helen (Sarah Gadon) also sees Adam (without his knowledge) and the resemblance is uncanny. Here, things take an interesting turn.

My initial thoughts are of bafflement. This film really does leave some unanswered questions.

From the outset, this film is very dark. This is established by the harsh lighting, as well as the nervy soundtrack that plays all the way through. This adds a rising sense of unease, and is reminiscent of the film The Machinist (2004). By doing this, although nothing in particular is happening, the viewer still gets a bad feeling that something is about to. This really does illustrate the sheer power of music within film.

Gyllenhaal is impressive as Adam/Anthony. I have been a fan of him ever since Donnie Darko (2001), and he has gone from strength to strength over the past decade. He illustrates the likeability in Adam, but the devilish side of Anthony.

This is an enjoyable film, but there are some obvious motifs within the narrative. One such example is the presence of spiders. These seem to play a big part in the plot of the story, but their meaning is never explained. When doing some background reading about this film, I noticed director Villeneuve got the cast to sign a confidentiality agreement to keep the meaning hidden. This clearly shows that we aren’t supposed to know the true meaning behind Enemy.

Although this film is very enigmatic, I would still recommend this in order to draw your own conclusions. I have reached a number of conclusion about the ending, and I am sure there are many more.

One useful resource I found which tries to explain the film is:

http://www.slate.com/blogs/browbeat/2014/03/14/enemy_movie_ending_explained_the_meaning_of_the_jake_gyllenhaal_and_denis.html

 

By Robert Spence