Jake Gyllenhaal gets next level creepy
Jake Gyllenhaal plays Lou Bloom; a driven young man desperate for work who discovers the high-speed world of crime journalism in the nocturnal underbelly of Los Angeles. This is Gyllenhaal’s finest performance playing funny, engaging and sinister all at the same time, in this warped snapshot of the ‘American Dream’.
Lou Bloom poses as a twisted version of the traditional story of the all American entrepreneur, trying to get ahead anyway he can. He finds his calling when he stumbles upon a burning car and a badly injured woman. A freelance TV crew is attending the wreckage shoving the camera in the woman’s face whilst the police are dragging her away. Once they get their footage, they celebrate the money they’ll make selling it to the morning news. An opportunity arises for Lou; he pawns a stolen bike, buys his first camera and makes a profit from tragedy as a police chasing freelance cameraman.
Lou Bloom is like a character out of a Wes Anderson film, who’s ambition is warped into a realm of violent and unmoral sociopathy . Slimmed down and bug-eyed he is a deluded anti-hero who blankly spouts affirmative ‘manual management’ orders to his hapless intern Rick (Riz Ahmed) twisting him to his will. You could even go as far to say that Lou portrays symptoms of someone with Aspergers.
Rene Russo steals the show for me, she plays Nina, a hard faced news editor of a failing LA news station, who will do anything to get her ratings up to save herself from being fired. She wants stories of “urban crime creeping into the suburbs” and describes “the perfect story is a screaming woman with her throat cut running down a street in a good neighbourhood”. She doesn’t care how Lou gets his material, regardless of how immoral and barely legal it is, she never even asks. The station needs ratings and the public want gore, so Lou happily gets his hands mucky. Why not drag a dead man from a car wreck so the mangled body can glow in the headlights? Whatever makes a better shot is his mantra.
This film oozes sleek style with perfect shots of Lou’s American muscle car roaring down the empty night streets of LA, racing police cars at breakneck speeds to beat their rivals. We end up rooting for him, we become so self-caught up in the chase we forget about what he is actually doing.
With a chameleon at its core, Lou is an underdog who finds his niche and we can’t help but like him. He has a naivety about him – he can’t quite believe his footage “on TV it looks so real”. What I love about this film is that we don’t connect with Lou on an emotional level because he isn’t an emotional character. Gyllenhaal’s performance is so dedicated and Gilroy’s world so determinedly realised that it forces originality. This is definitely Gyllenhaal’s best performance since Brokeback Mountain, and a stunning directional debut from Gilroy. 4.5/5