Nightcrawler (2014)

Wet Spots

There are some fine things about this that you can read elsewhere, There seems to be no lack of appreciation for the obvious things. What struck me was the role that Russo has.

I am interested in films where the filmmaker — usually a man — is in love with his lead actress. Love bends film. Passion drives the creative process and spills into my experience. Here is a case where the filmmaker also wrote the part. And what a part! This is the rare film where the main character (Bloom) is less deep than his foil (Russo).

Bloom reacts to and within his environment. His reactions are engaging for sure, but is Russo that envelops him and becomes the environment. He cannot resist. In the past, I have not been impressed by this actress, but here her husband/lover seems to have known precisely what she can do and built the character’s behaviour around those abilities.

Superficially, she is not an attractive being. But look more closely at how she carries herself, even when challenged. Look how in the shared scenes the camera frames her face differently than his. This is built around her.

In particular, there is a device called folding, the simplest example of which is a film within a film. Whoever controls the inner film (here an ongoing newscast) we also subconsciously understand to control the outer film. Whether Gilroy consciously knew this or not, I cannot say. But you can sense his mature passion in how this woman shapes his world.

Another dynamic worth mentioning is something I call exploitation irony. A common use is in a film that is ostensibly against sexual exploitation; say it is about a father who learns that his daughter is an enslaved porn actress, is repelled and enlists us in an enterprise to save her. But then we have some sex scenes that are shot to appeal to the very same prurient abstractions we nominally deplore.

It is a good trick because it builds tension within us. Here we have that with our intended aberrance for emphasised exposure to violent lowlifes. And then our engagement with the same behaviour we are set to criticise. The effect is amplified because of this film-within dynamic and the onscreen lover effect.

Posted in 2015

Ted’s Evaluation — 3 of 3: Worth watching.


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