CRIME; 1hr 57min
STARRING: Jake Gyllenhaal, Rene Russo, Bill Paxton, Riz Ahmed
Hot shot: Gyllenhaal
Writer-director Dan Gilroy’s Los Angeles is Seamy City, and Louis Bloom (Gyllenhaal) is flotsam on its fringe. Lou is a nocturnal prowler, an outsider and an unctuous, creepy, fast-talking thief. When he happens to witness the filming for TV news of a car-accident victim by a hardass freelance videographer (Paxton) whose motto is “If it bleeds, it leads,” Lou is inspired. His amateurish maiden footage, shot with a camcorder purchased via the collateral of a stolen bicycle, nonetheless strikes a chord with station news director Nina Romina (Russo), who gets off on down-and-dirty almost as much as Lou does. Seizing the proverbial, Lou grandiosely hires a gullible desperate (Ahmed) and sets about building a business on the splintered bones of stabbings, shootings, crashes and burns. He is, as he earnestly assures Nina, “a very fast learner.”
As the one-man nerve centre of Gilroy’s mordantly gripping directorial debut, a gaunt and haunted-looking Gyllenhaal is a feral magnet, trawling gutters with blank, sociopathic intensity. Lou is a notoriety-driven, information-age monster, particular to our bloodsucking times yet universal in the ruthless sense of self-inflated purpose that works overtime to ensure his dirty success.