Tuesday, July 25, 2017

In short: Nighcrawler (2014)

When it comes to films about horrifyingly empty people, Dan Gilroy’s sort of crime movie, kinda thriller, satire and portray of an actual sociopath would probably make a good double feature with Mike Hodges’s Croupier, even though Jake Gyllenhaal’s Louis Bloom in this film is a somewhat different proposition to Clive Owen’s croupier. Where Owen’s character in Croupier loses his tenuous grip on something amounting to humanity, Gyllenhaal plays his character as an alien who genuinely does not understand human ethics or empathy and most certainly never possessed them – quite unlike the characters surrounding him who do understand these things but decide not to act on them for various reasons, enabling the evils Bloom perpetrates for their own expediency and success, and because the void is just so damn seductive.

I found Gyllenhaal’s performance, the way his character parrots phrases he’s learned on the Internet or in how to business books genuinely disturbing, even more so since he clearly sees himself as an all-American success story, an afterschool TV special hero. Gilroy’s film suggests various rather frightening things (that’ll not surprise quite a few of us): that you best be a monster to make it in late capitalist society or transform yourself into one; that the systemic pressures inherent in media and society push people incessantly to give up on very basic elements of their humanity while pretending they don’t; that in this society, being a monster is simply easier than being human; and that pretending to be be an actual human being is much more important than acting like one.

All this is packaged in an elegant, very Los Angeles film, that is so strongly structured and so well made Gyllenhaal’s incredible performance seems a natural part of his filmic surroundings.

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