Jake Gyllenhaal simply shines as the unhinged lead character in this deliciously gritty slice of entertainment – with a dark and twisted satirical underbelly.
He puts in a potentially Oscar-winning turn as bizarre loner Louis Bloom – a driven young man (who has resorted to thieving) desperate for work in the City of Angels – who discovers the underground world of LA crime journalism.
By being first on the scene to major night-time incidents – with his cheaply hired sidekick Rick (Brit actor Riz Ahmed) – to get the first scoop on car crashes, fires, and even murders, Bloom takes part in the cut-throat world of night-crawling.
Here sometimes bloody and violent danger goes hand-in-hand with potentially bumper cash pay-outs, by trying to beat the competition – such as Bill Paxton’s veteran Joe Loder – to get the best footage, which enables the most lucrative price from the likes of Rene Russo’s regional news producer Nina Romina.
Produced by Gyllenhaal, and directed by The Bourne Legacy helmer Dan Gilroy (who is also coincidentally married to Russo), this refreshingly original material probably only has the likes of Ryan Gosling’s Drive and the Oscar-winning Crash that offers anything close to similarities – and that may just make it a ‘Marmite’ film for cinema-goers hoping for something a bit more commercial.
But for film buffs this will undoubtedly be one of the year’s best (if not very close to the best) movies, which is headlined by Gyllenhaal’s truly compelling off-kilter performance.
He seems to thrive in these moodier roles – see Donnie Darko, Brokeback Mountain and Zodiac – and this is undoubtedly his best yet as this likeable anti-hero, who has a creepy dark side through his hunger to succeed in the world.
Throw in Russo’s best performance in years – as a producer who ruthlessly shows graphic imagery for network ratings – then this is a gleeful recipe for success, coupled with visually sleek production values from this crime-thriller-cum-media satire.
This is compounded by a truly nerve-racking, and viscerally pulse-pounding last half hour that will have you on the edge-of-your-seat – and comes complete with a disturbingly immoral thought-provoking ending.
If you love films, crawl to the cinema to see this if you have to.
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Gavin Miller[youtube id=”X8kYDQan8bw” width=”600″ height=”350″]