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Nightcrawler has nothing to do with the X-Men series, but Jake Gyllenhaal’s chilling turn as Lou Bloom in the latest box office hit is just as supernatural as any of the creatures living in the Marvel world. Bloom finds his calling in capturing sensational stories and selling them to a news network and becomes disturbingly good at it. The extent in which Lou goes on to further himself in his pursuit of a budding enterprise is at times shocking, morally boundless and always gruesome. But the most glaring of all was Gyllenhaal’s perfect performance.
This marks one of Gyllenhaal’s best roles yet, so much so that we think this deserves some serious recognition in the form of award nominations. You hear us, Golden Globes and Oscars? Let’s break down the many, many amazing reasons how Gyllenhaal blew us away in Nightcrawler [Warning: spoilers ahead]
His on-screen presence was unsettling (i.e. totally effective)
Yes, Gyllenhaal went through a bit of a physical transformation for this role, achieving a slimmer build and more angular face, but that’s not exactly what we mean. Yes, he looked creepy, but his overall presence onscreen was what sold us: the way Lou talked with zero emotion, the slow creeping way he’d zoom into his subjects and the robotic way he’d spew his managerial lessons. You never really knew what was going on in his mind, but you knew whatever it was, it was f–king terrifying.
You can’t help but love and hate him at the same time
Part of you is secretly hoping for Lou to succeed in Nightcrawler. It was established early on in the film when we see Lou’s struggle to find a passionate career option and constantly getting rejected by potential employers. But let’s not forget that our first glimpse at the character was also of him stealing fence wiring and taking down an officer for his shiny watch. The movie creates a balance of love and hate for Lou so that even though you are cringing at the sight of him dragging dead bodies around for a better framing opportunity, you’re still secretly hoping he successfully sells his tapes for money. That’s also what makes the ending such a mind f-ck. We won’t discuss it further to avoid super spoilers, but Gyllenhaal plays Lou with such blank sympathy and determination that it’s tough not to feel morally trapped in your own opinion of the movie’s main character.
He had fantastic co-stars
Praise truly goes out to Rene Russo and Riz Ahmed for outstanding performances alongside Gyllenhaal. As the springboards for Lou, Russo’s Nina and Ahmed’s Rick were the grounding forces surrounding him, showing off just how horrific Lou’s actions were and reminding all of us that this is a tale of both an antihero and a malicious villain.
That scene in the Mexican restaurant
In a major turning point in the film, Lou invites Nina out on a date and in the span of the six and a half minutes, a seemingly gore-free scene turns into the most morally horrifying highlight of the film. Lou, using his unnatural charm, proposes a romantic relationship with TV news director Nina, but when she rejects him, the scene builds and builds with Lou’s calm but shocking threats that it becomes just as uncomfortable and mind-blowing than any car crash seen in the film.