Death as a product (Nightcrawler movie review)

Pictures and videos of death are always controversial. How far can photographer/ film-maker go to make a vision of  a dead body visually attractive? Is it morally justified to reorganise and direct scenes of suffering to achieve more shocking/ touching effect? And – last but not least – can you based your career on documenting misery of the others? ‘Nightcrawler’ is a movie which is centered around all these questions.

The director, Dan Gilroy, sees the analogy between shooting from a gun and taking/shooting photos. He deconstructs the schematic perception of the image of suffering that is mediated by media (here TV is a main one) and injected between the sports and weather news. He makes us understand that the dramaturgy of TV-news is not accidental or random, but has its director. Each reportage is a different piece of art that can be described as both – documentary and commercial illusion that was made to scare and interest the audience. Gilroy focuses on exposing the problem of death’s and suffering’s media attractiveness.

‘Nighcrawler’ tells the story of Lou Bloom (awesome Jake Gyllenhaal), an unemployed man who desperately looks for a job. Finally he gets the idea to film the nightly accidents and crimes, and then sell his materials to the local television. In the beginning he is counting on the good luck and his natural talent for catching moments. Unfortunately, money turns his new profession in a sick obsession. Being a reporter/ journalists, who cares about the truth, turns into being a poacher. Lou begins his hunting. What he wants is a well-presented tragedy.  No risk, no fun (no fortune). To achieve the effect which will shake and move the audience, he will be putting his own life in danger, but – what’s even more scary – he will completely ignore the basic rules of morality and journalistic ethics. His method will be based on the rule of negation. He will negate good taste and boundaries between making a crime and being a criminal.

The director bluntly criticizes of media sensationalism. His negative assessment touches not only journalists that have forgotten about the prerogative of telling and showing not-manipulated truth, but also attacks the mentality of the whole modern world – of those who are deriving the perverse pleasure from watching the suffering and pain of others, and of those who are paying for these images without asking if they present the reality or its photoshopped/ directed illusion. Everyday news are presented here as a tasty dessert for the audience that is always hungry and thirsty of sensations, dramas, and proves of others misery. What’s important – Lou could be anyone. The director is using concretes to tell the universal story of so called ‘rat race’, which often  sucks out people’s empathy and morality.