NightCrawler is a film Written and Directed by Dan Gilroy and stars the incredibly popular Jake Gyllenhaal. The Movie follows Lou Bloom, a single adult trying to find a job that he can develop into his career. From the moment the film starts we can see that Lou is an odd protagonist. He is clearly looking for something, a fulfillment to his life. This is even shown in his first line of the script when a cop approaches and asks him what he is doing, he simply states, “I’m lost.” It is not until Lou discoveres the world of Tv journalism that he feels he truly might have found a place for himself. Or at least, a start.
From the first moment we see Lou enter the world of Journalism it is clear that he actually found something he enjoys doing. And he is good at it. But what makes Lou such a unique and intriguing character is that he is a sociopath. Lou blends his sociopathic traits very well with his politeness to create a very eerie and intimidating personality. However, he uses this to his advantage on multiple occasions. His lack of empathy and drive to succeed really shows the audience how hard of a worker he really is. Which ends up landing him a job working as a freelancer for a local news company. We see very early on that Lou will do whatever it takes to maintain this. Even going as far as moving dead bodies at a car accident to get a better shot.
One of Jeffery Cohen’s theories states that, “The monster Dwells at the Gate of Difference.” (7) This theory applies to Lou in a sense that throughout the whole film, Lou is trying to become an active member of society. The second scene of the movie shows him approaching a construction worker attempting to get a job. We see right away that he is looking for a fulfillment to his life. He does not want to be different from everyone else, he just wants to fit in. But Lou’s sociopathic tendencies are keeping him balancing on the border of having that normal life, and losing it completely. The entire film is Louis doing what he thinks is right for him to advance in his newly founded career. He has no problem severely injuring or even murdering others as it is shown later in the film. His Motivation for succeeding as a TV Camera reporter motivates him to do completely unethical things.
Cohens sixth theory, “Fear of the Monster Is Really a Kind of Desire” (Cohen 16) really shows the reason this character was created. That is why we are quick to sympathize with the character throughout the whole film. We as an audience understand his actions are not morally correct, but we understand why he is doing them. He wants to fit in, have a normal job and be an active member of society. And in return, this creates what is known as an Antihero. A character who lacks morality and, although not in this case, courage. The antiheroes perform actions that are usually indeed morally right but for their own self interest or profit.
Lou’s sociopathic nature allows him to excel at his job which only shows the true problem with this, that society rewards the creation of these monsters. The director himself confirms this as a key factor in the writing process of the film. Not only is it bringing to light the true horrific nature of some people and their dedication to getting the job done, but it also shows why it is morally and ethically wrong.
But what defines a sociopath? Is it the way they were raised or how they were raised? It is a very internal process. In the case of males, their hormones seem to stimulate the growth of the amygdala, a key area that modulates anger, hate, and aggression (Mohl 4). Louis manages to show all of these traits throughout the entire film. He has a clear sign of anger when he lets his boss down. He also clearly hates his rival and shows aggression to him in his calm toned manner which is even more frightening.
Lou is a hard worker and that is made very clear from the beginning of the film. He is determined to be the best no matter what the cost is. When he arrives late to an accident, his rival is there bragging about the big scoop he got. Which leaves Lou returning to his boss with nothing. Which results in her yelling at him and overall, disappointing a respected figure of his. This becomes one of the major turning points for Louis in with his Sociopathic tendencies. Which end up causing Lou to cut the breaks of his rivals van which leads him to an almost near death accident. And of course, Lou is front and center to capture it all to please his boss. He did not decide whether what he was doing was morally right or not. He simply wanted to be the best in his field.
With all of the negative and horrific things the character has done so far we still see him as the protagonist. But why? Well it is because of one easy word, empathy. “The audience’s emotional involvement is held by the glue of empathy” (McKee 141). We use empathy towards Louis and his actions because even though we understand it is not morally right we still want him to succeed because we feel bad for this isolated individual. Even louis uses empathy on himself to justify his actions. He believes that if he just does this one kinda bad thing his life would be so much better from it. He knows that he will get away with it because he is intelligent and has a fantastic alibi to help him get away with these horrendous actions.
Jake Gyllenhaal’s portrayal of Lou is one of the reasons this movie was so successful. The ability to have him be polite and intimidating with a dash of insane really develops a great on screen adaptation of what someone like this would be like. Determined to get the job done no matter what the cost was. Not thinking about whether what you are doing is right or wrong but if it is good enough. And for the NightCrawler, it was.
Gilroy, Dan, et al. Nightcrawler. Bold Films, 2014.
Cohen, Jeffery jerome. “Monster Culture (Seven Theses).” Englishwithtuttle, www.englishwithtuttle.com/uploads/3/0/2/6/30266519/cohen_monster_culture__seven_theses__3-20.pdf.
Mohl, Allan S. “Sociopathic Behavior and Its Relationship to Psychohistory.” EBSCOhost,
McKee, Robert. Story. Vol. 1, Methune, 2014.