2014 / Director. Dan Gilroy.
Review by Glenn Cochrane.
Life got in the way and I wasn't able to see NIGHTCRAWLER during its cinema run and critics have been touting it as a "masterpiece" and labelling it "brilliant". I was beaten to the punch and missed the opportunity to use those big flashy statements. Well I guess they did my job for me because I agree with them. This is an immaculate and chilling dramatic-thriller that recalls the uneasiness of TAXI DRIVER and the frantic chaos of BRINGING OUT THE DEAD. With those two titles in mind it is clear that Martin Scorsese and Paul Schrader have been heavy influences on writer/director Dan Gilroy. Set in Los Angeles the film follows a brilliant but unstable man who seizes the opportunity to become a freelance cameraman. With a brain for business he equips himself with a cheap camera and a police scanner and he races against professionals to capture live-action footage of accidents and crime scenes. He begins to sell his footage to a local news network and gradually builds his reputation as the go-to guy in town. Before long his dogged tenacity and perverse addiction to success sees him crossing ethical lines and manipulating crime scenes for the sake of a perfect shot. It's chilling stuff and Jake Gyllenhaal has reached deep to extract what is easily his best performance to date. His on-screen presence is both physically and mentally disturbing. Dan Gilroy has obviously carried this story with him for a long time because he executes it with perfection. Every frame is perfect. The chases and the crime scenes are electric and the story moves at a breakneck pace. The dark street-lit atmosphere gives the film a disconcerting edge and help to cement NIGHTCRAWLER as one of the year's best films. Had I seen it upon release then it would have featured in my top 10 list of 2014. Brilliant stuff.