***1/2 out of ****
This story is about the triumph of one sociopath in a dog-eat-dog world. He has the awkward personality of a strange outsider sticking his nose into the business of others with the insistence of a child, only to eavesdrop on their business tactics so that he can mimic them. He may look like a maladjusted loser, but he's a rare breed, methodically adapting to an ugly world in order to have power in it.
Jake Gyllenhaal puts more into this character than I would have ever expected. His frail figure, oily hair and gigantic un-blinking eyes amount to an unsettling screen presence. His character pursues the profession of paparazzi-like accident and crime videography in L.A. with no emotional response when approaching a gruesome scene with his camera. When socializing with others, he makes lengthy speeches, as though he’s been rehearsing them for a long time. This is an anti-hero that works without winning any of our empathy. His ability to succeed in the profession he’s assumed is simply fascinating, given how alien he seems.
Nightcrawler is Dan Gilroy's directorial debut, and as usual, the Gilroy brothers have much more to give when they get around to their passion projects. He is the brother of Tony Gilroy, who made the excellent Michael Clayton some years back before they worked together on the decent, yet pointless The Bourne Legacy. Here, Gilroy has a cynical, yet interesting –though sometimes heavy-handed commentary on a modern business world that encourages unconscionable actions.