Matt Day’s review published on Letterboxd :
Going to theaters to see a film everyone is raving about is something special. Something that's kind of hard to describe. For all the people who chose to still see 'Oujia' this past weekend, and even the ones I saw at the theater tonight going to see it, they missed out on that special feeling. Not to mention 'Oujia' is one of the lowest rated films to come out this past month. I felt bad for them at times when there was a breather in the engrossing story 'Nightcrawler' tells. This is the type of film and the type of performance (from Jake Gyllenhaal) that we may be talking about in the coming months when the Golden Globes and The Oscars roll around. 'Nightcrawler' isn't just a film, it's an experience.
'Nightcrawler' follows the story of Louis Bloom (Jake Gyllenhaal), a man living in Los Angeles. Louis is a man driven by the need make a name for himself, no matter what it takes to do it. He makes ends meet by stealing things such as copper wire and fencing to sell to construction companies. One night on his way home, he comes across a car crash on the highway and pulls over to help. A man with a video camera, Joe Loder (Bill Paxton), and his partner, run up to the police saving a woman from said car, recording it all. Louis asks Joe what he's doing and if he has any job openings. He learns of the world of video journalism and proceeds to buy himself a cheap camera and radio scanner. One of his first nights out, he haphazardly films a man who had been shot as part of a robbery and sells it to a news station. The morning news director, Nina (Rene Russo), likes the footage and tells Louis to keep it up. Giving him advice, that the news that sells, is minorities committing crimes in the more well-off parts of LA. Louis then decides that he will need help in these endeavors and hires an assistant, Rick (Riz Ahmed), a young person in need of money. They begin to delve deep into video journalism and try to get footage of increasingly gruesome crime scenes. Louis and Rick become increasingly important to Nina at the news station and also a thorn in the side of Joe. Louis is a man out to make a name for himself and he will stop at nothing to do it.
This was a film I've been excited for ever since I saw the first trailers for it. It looked fresh, it looked exciting and Jake Gyllenhaal looked to be great in it. I was not disappointed by any of my expectations coming out of the theater. I almost don't even know where to start because this film sucks you in from the opening scenes. The story is highly original and I loved not knowing where all the increasingly dangerous decisions Louis was making, was going to end up. Louis' character aside, the story of him trying to reach his goal, and doing literally anything to get to it, added another level to the film. You're rooting for Louis to achieve, because he seems to be a down on his luck guy, living alone in his tiny apartment. But then the film wears on and Louis' eccentric, and almost emotionless tendencies, make you start to wonder if you really want him to achieve his goal. The people around him, Nina and Rick, almost have to deal with him as much as Louis deals with his inner struggles. Jake Gyllenhaal plays Louis perfectly and he really brings out everything I just mentioned about him. He portrays the charisma, the knowledge, he most certainly posses, and the emptiness it sometimes takes to be the best at video journalism. Gyllenhaal spectacular throughout and demands your attention when he's on the screen. The more you process Louis throughout, the more you can see Gyllenhaal really embody him. Rene Russo and Riz Ahmed are welcome additions to the supporting cast. Both are great whenever they're on-screen as Nina and Rick respectively. The interactions between Russo and Gyllenhaal are fast paced, lively and at times heavy. While Ahmed and Gyllenhaal's scenes are filled with action and tension. Bill Paxton is also good in the limited time he's on-screen. The true glue behind this fantastic story and acting, comes back to Jake Gyllenhaal as Louis. Without this performance this film wouldn't be as good as is it, plain and simple. The film, that mostly takes place at night, is beautifully shot. I love when you can showcase a big city, like LA, well. The music throughout is top-notch and really adds to a given scene. This is a crime thriller and there's plenty of great action laced throughout. It has a runtime of nearly two hours, but I can honestly say I never checked the time from the moment the trailers ended, until the credits started rolling.
'Nightcrawler' is among the year's best films to be released. It's a fast paced, hi-octane thriller that never lets the audience go. The original story and the fantastic performance by Jake Gyllenhaal is all this film needed to look good. When you add in the great writing, supporting acting and thrilling action, you get a great film. I would not be surprised in the slightest if Jake Gyllenhaal gets nominations come awards season. He truly does deserve it for his performance in this wonderful film.