Directed by Dan Gilroy, Nightcrawler depicts the world of nighttime crime-scene videographers in Los Angeles as a jumping-off point to explore contemporary media culture, self-created personalities in the Internet age, and the boundaries of personal ambition.
In the film, Lou Bloom (Jake Gyllenhaal) is adrift on the fringes of society, stealing scrap to sell at salvage yards. After seeing a freelance video news team swoop in during the aftermath of a freeway car crash, he sets a new goal for himself. Bloom makes a quick study of his new profession. While at it, he encounters a more established competitor (Bill Paxton), an overnight-shift television news producer (Rene Russo) desperate to make a mark and a hapless tag-along assistant (Riz Ahmed).
Gilroy noted that for him, Gyllenhaal’s gaunt look in the film reduces his face to angular planes that catch light in different ways, shifting between handsome and grotesque. Gyllenhaal evokes the hungry demeanor of a coyote — “Lou is a nocturnal predator who comes down from the hills at night to feed,” Gilroy said — and the film’s vision of Los Angeles is also meant to capture the city’s interface with nature that many films overlook.
As for the setting of the film, Gilroy thinks that Los Angeles is both a land of opportunity and madness. “The Los Angeles I usually see on film is the Los Angeles that’s man-made, downtown and freeway world,” said Gilroy. “I always responded to the wild, untamed aspect of Los Angeles. To me, it’s a place of mountains and oceans. It functions like a little island surrounded by wilderness.” In crafting a specific vision for Los Angeles, cinematographer Robert Elswit (an Oscar winner for “There Will Be Blood”) shot nighttime scenes with a digital camera and daytime scenes with a 35mm film camera. The production took place at more than 70 locations around L.A. on a 29-day shoot, including 22 night shoots in a row.
Showing on November 12, in theaters nationwide, Nightcrawler will be released and distributed by Captive Cinema.