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Analysis of the Hollywood Pyschodrama ‘Nightcrawler’

IMAGE: ‘Burning inside’ – Bill Paxton ( on the left) plays Joe Loder, a longtime video stringer looking to corner the market on selling death. Lou Bloom (on the right) is transformed by Joe’s ‘ambulance chasing’ video career.

The Hollywood thriller Nightcrawler takes you on a dark ride through the seedy streets of L.A., as death chasing video-stringer’s hunt for the next story to sell. When you peel back the layers of the film’s plot – you see a haunting vision of American media, popculture and hidden meaning… Vague terror creeps inside

In the opening sequence of Nightcrawler, we see a crime in progress, as the film’s lead character Lou Bloom (Jake Gyllenhaal) is seen trespassing in a restricted industrial area, scrapping for metal goods in the dark of night. The wide-eyed Lou is confronted by a private security guard and pretends to be lost, seemingly unfettered by the consequences of his actions, stalks closer towards the guard with a devil-may-care grin. The audience is then given its first glimpse into Lou’s manipulative scope, when he viciously envelops the guard in a violent struggle. Although we are a witness to Lou’s crimes, the camera abruptly cuts away from the scene before it ends – leaving the rest to your imagination Early on in the story, Lou’s ambition is seemingly misguided and without any clear direction, as he spouts off corporate self-help jargon trying to leverage himself among other people. He appears to be caught in a narcissistic fantasy world while hermetically teaching himself online and as a means of survival, pawns the occasional stolen bike during the day. At nighttime, we see the darker side of Lou’s personality near the forefront, one looks to exploit any opportunity, such as snatching and selling copper wire, chain-link fencing and manhole covers to a local scrap yard for quick cash.  Even though Lou is a thief, he attempts to get a job at the scrap yard, unconcerned that his small-time criminal operation would effect his chances of getting hired. We find out that self-preservation is paramount in Lou’s world, even if things are dangerous, ugly and without morality.   The metamorphosis of Lou Bloom A pivotal moment occurs when Lou stumbles upon a car crash along the side of the highway and stops. This is a particularly symbolic sequence in the film, as the crash seems to signify a clear shift in Lou’s psychological state, as he sees two police officers pulling an injured woman from the burning wreckage, while two freelance cameramen are shooting footage of the horrific scene. The burning car scene could have an underlying meaning, perhaps symbolizing the Phoenix motif and all its occult associations. This idea is strengthened when we see that Lou’s dark persona and sociopathic behavior is no longer partially dormant, he becomes exhilarated by the rush of the accident. 


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