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E nough to make your skin crawl; MOVIE Jake Gyllenhaal sheds matinee idol role to become creepy nightcrawler seeking out sensationalist shots in edgy thriller.

NIGHTCRAWLER 15 Drifter Jake Gyllenhaal becomes a "nightcrawler", a freelance videographer filming bloody car crashes and murder scenes, who is drawn into the dark and morally dubious side of television journalism.

And this lurid and amoral world is brilliantly shown in this atmospheric film, which is part thriller and part bleak character study.

Gyllenhaal ditches his matinee idol image (remember his heroism in The Day After Tomorrow) to play Lou Bloom, a gently sinister and possibly psychopathic bum in Los Angeles, who stumbles into the perfect job when he sees Joe Loder (Bill Paxton), who follows the "if it bleeds, it leads" mantra, filming a fiery car wreck.

Hiring genial Rick (British actor Riz Ahmed) as his assistant, Lou drives around the city, looking for similar bloody, violent and nasty images to sell to television channels desperate for shock footage. There he meets his match in unscrupulous news editor Nina (Rene Russo), who helps him rise to the top of the slimy ranks of nightcrawlers.

But in a change of tone in the film, it also sees him drawn into a dark conspiracy when he withholds footage from police.

The film is shot with a raw and pungent sense of dread and, even though its core message that TV journalism can be a bit dodgy is hardly a revelation, Nightcrawler's dark and unnerving nastiness works.

The film is best when it comes to detailing Lou's creepy personality, with Gyllenhaal terrific in an unrepentantly unsympathetic role, balanced by Russo's manipulative and equally unhinged newswoman and Ahmed's impressionable Rick.

The thriller aspect of the film doesn't work quite as well - mainly because the character study is so good - but it does tick all the boxes when it comes to visceral action sequences. | Nightcrawler (15) running time 1hr 57mins is in cinemas on Friday


IN TOO DEEP Can Gyllenhaal shed light on a conspiracy?

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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:Sunday Mail (Glasgow, Scotland)
Date:Oct 26, 2014
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