The genius of Dan Gilroy’s Nightcrawler is how it makes the audience complicit in Lou’s (Jake Gyllenhaal) sickening actions, and by the time we realize the director is accusing us of being hypocrites, we just don’t care.
Is there something inherently wrong with zooming in on a dying man’s face, as he lies on the pavement, helpless and in shock?
Is there something inherently wrong with selling graphic footage to television networks, who intend to use the material to boost their ratings?
Is there something inherently wrong with people who turn on their television each morning to feast on the latest highway accident, or suburbs murder spree?
Gilroy proves that even if the answer to all the questions above is a resounding “Yes”, the vast majority of us would rather never be faced with such queries.
When Lou drags a corpse across the street so he could get a nicer frame, I admired his quick thinking. In fact, I kept hoping the movie would continue showing gruesome accidents, only so Lou could keep shooting and editing them.
Near the end of the movie, a character says that facts don’t matter, as long as the fiction everyone watches as home continues to entertain.
The modern news have melded with Hollywood sensationalism so much, that they are both one and the same.
Facts are skewered, or almost besides the point.
We are outraged; incensed; moved; and stirred to action. We consume and believe what’s on our TV and laptop screens, because a floating head has appealed to our sense of curiosity, not to our intellect.
Because if we truly wanted to learn something, we wouldn’t spend so much time in front of a screen, would we?
So we continue viewing the world not with an educated and open mind, but with the narrow focus fed to us by all those creepy nightcrawlers.