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'Nightcrawler' Is Not Pretty, But It Is Thought-Provoking


Jake Gyllenhaal in Nightcrawler is almost an example of an old-fashioned American ideal.

He is certainly starting at the bottom of his chosen field, as Horatio Alger heroes are supposed to do. And he has absorbed the accepted rules to the extent that he is almost comical in his performance as a job candidate and, later, as a potential employer. There is hardly a cliché of self-help manuals that he doesn’t recite, with no apparent effort at parody.

He is a hard worker, so dedicated to his intended profession that he seems to have no other life than work. And there is a rugged honesty about him that will not allow for anything soft or romantic in his relationship with Rene Russo.

He never mentions love as he tells that however he must behave in public, when they are alone he expects her to do exactly as he tell her to. And she is attracted in some such way that she accepts his terms. I really wish we were shown more of what that involved.

But there are shortcomings about Gyllenhaal that prevent our admiring of him totally. He is a photographic paparazzo, a freelance journalist who is not above doctoring a news scene in a way that had a woman behind me gasping, “No no no!”

He is almost eager to obstruct the work of the police. In one case, he is accused of murder by omission of action to save a life.

Nightcrawler is an exposé of bottom feeding in the news business, and it doesn’t romanticize anything except maybe reckless driving, which is a necessity in Gyllanhaal’s profession if he is to get to crime and accident scenes before the police.

It’s not a pretty movie, but it’s very well made and does provoke thought, at least in me.