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Dan Gilroy’s Film Nightcrawler

Essay by   •  October 10, 2018  •  Book/Movie Report  •  1,477 Words (6 Pages)  •  156 Views

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Nightcrawler

Dan Gilroy’s film, NightCrawler, fairly depicts a satirical thriller about the horrors of real life and a cautionary tale about the manipulation of social media, immoral behaviour and criminal activities. It encompasses the life of a sociopath as he pushes the disturbed logic of the 21st century to its extremities.

In the story, Jake Gylenhall’s character, Louis Bloom is a unemployed petty thief, who is quite intelligent as he educates himself using the Internet. He is a sociopath living on the fringes of life as he is first seen cutting through a fence to be able to steal scrap in order to sell it to earn a little extra pocket money. After stumbling upon cameramen filming a car crash, he learns that they are freelancers who use police radios to track down gruesome crimes or anything of that nature in order to record footage to be sold to news broadcasters. As he says in the film, ”If it bleeds, it leads” giving this impression that only the most horrific footage will pay the big bucks. Over time, recording striking images of brutal crimes, Lou builds a reputation for himself by manipulating the evidence and anyone in his way. He begins to push the boundaries of journalistic ethics by messing with crime scenes and ends up escaping the suspicion of police officers becoming a star in the process.

The dominant ideology in this film is the manipulation of media and relationships with the effect it has on society. The manipulation of evidence and the lack of journalistic ethics have created a sense for lying, in a world where ratings are the only thing that matters. Lou without any moral responsibility will do anything to ensure that he has the best footage possible, even if it is a misrepresentation of the truth. The story supports the dominant ideology throughout the whole film, as there are scenes where Lou manipulates the head news broadcaster, Nina Romina shifting from romance into threats of dominance and sexuality. His distorted idea of what it takes to go somewhere in life is so skewed from the norm that he is uninhibited by morality, which leads him to break the law in order to get ahead. In a world where people like Lou succeed and others such as his partner Rick, who is a semi-homeless drifter, and a decent hard working person, get taken advantage of. The film is a social commentary and holds this prominent ideology throughout the entire time, ending with him restating the same ideals he gave to Rick with his new team. It is a never-ending cycle where there is a fine line between greed and good.

One of the central themes of the film is the perception of reality. It is first seen when Lou arrives to the news studio and points out how real Los Angeles looks on television, foreshadowing the deception of news broadcasters. The entire industry of news broadcasters feed off their own version of reality to ensure that they receive better ratings. Lou also gives off this illusion of an ordinary person with his sense of professionalism and realism but it is beyond the exterior, which lies an innocent sociopath with no social conscience towards anyone. Even a man who seems to be normal, motivated and even likeable at times, can be evil and seduce anyone in his way to become like him as well. The film is a lively aspect to a social media driven culture where society is being controlled by the deceit of news teams. The fact remains that by altering evidence even though it is not the truth, the news station can ensure that their ratings will go up as they are “giving people what they want to see”. This film is an in-depth look at a man bent on destruction if it means his gain.

The manipulation of people and the truth is seen through certain formal elements which have created a sense for emotional distress throughout the film. As most of the film is shot at night seeing as NightCrawlers only come out at night, it is a very somber and oppressive lighting, which makes the movie scarier and unpredictable. There are many close ups on the actors faces when they speak and this is to show how they express themselves in which the audience can understand if they are being genuine or not. The costumes selected for this film were well done as they gave a sense about who the person is. Rick who is homeless wore some of the same clothes throughout the entire film. Louis’s attire made him look even stranger than he already is and so I feel that the costumes were definitely appropriate. The sound design was very suspenseful and expressive as seen through the car chase, which was quite a striking scene, seeing as the anticipation was unbelievable but also very realistic. The cinematography was also very realistic as the camera placement and movement were seen through the objective shot of Lou’s cameras. It was also shot on location, which gave it an authentic look in the insight of L.A. crime journalism.

The women in this film, which were very few, were depicted as very feminine and vulnerable and so given their vulnerability, Lou is able to manipulate them along the way. Take for instance the news producer Nina; she is a very strong and independent person with a dominant presence in the news station. She is neurotically aware of her own impending uselessness and so when she finds Lou, she knows she had found a way to keep her job. Although very dominant in the beginning of the film, Lou ends up sexualizing her and using his footage as collateral for her to sleep with him. The objectification of women is quite present in this film as the only reason he has to sell her the footage is if he is able to sleep with her. This gives off the impression of the male gaze as she is a stunning woman nonetheless but rather she became depicted in a very sexual manner. Women are not very prominent in the movie and so Nina gives off this sense of voyeurism where she is seen through the eyes of a heterosexual male, constantly being sexualized and looked at, in a very erotic way.

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