In this section of our Colossus Movie Guide for Nightcrawler, we look at the key shots that help us understand the film.
- Jake Gyllenhaal – Louis “Lou” Bloom
- Rene Russo – Nina Romina
- Riz Ahmed – Rick
- Bill Paxton – Joe Loder
- Kevin Rahm – Frank Kruse
- Michael Hyatt – Detective Frontieri
- Ann Cusack – Linda
- Dan Gilroy – Writer and director
Key shots of Nightcrawler
Rick on the TV screen
The most haunting shot of the comes towards the end when Lou delivers footage of the shootout and car chase he staged. After the gunman crashes his car, Lou deceptively sends Rick in to capture footage of the body. But the gunman is still alive and shoots Rick. Lou then approaches Rick with his camera and says, “I can’t jeopardize my company’s success to retain an untrustworthy employee…You took my bargaining power and you used it against me. You would have done it again. Just admit it.” This essentially confirms that Lou knew the driver wasn’t dead and would shoot Rick.
Thus, this shot of Rick on the TV screen becomes a eulogy to Lou’s compassion and humanity. As a capitalist, his one and only drive is success, growth, and profit—and if anyone stands in the way of that, they become expendable. This shot serves as commentary on the film’s themes regarding the American Dream, showing how ruthless and harsh capitalist systems can be. Lou and Nina look away from the expendable employee and into each other’s eyes, symbolic of using media to their advantage in their pursuit of money and power.
The empty crib
There’s a disturbing moment when Lou films footage of the home where a triple homicide took place. He approaches a crib…but the camera doesn’t reveal if there’s a baby inside. The news footage eventually reveals that there was no baby. But Lou’s uncaring aura during the moment showcases just how barbarous he’s become in the pursuit of professional advancement. To him, it doesn’t matter that the baby survived. What matters is the drama the empty crib will create. Will there be a dead baby in the crib? The news anchors themselves ask this question as Lou approaches with his camera.
It’s notable that Frank is featured in the shot when it’s revealed the crib is empty. He serves as an moral anchor at the news station, constantly questioning Lou’s motives and highlighting the ethical questions raised by Lou’s reporting. Ultimately, Lou and the promise of high ratings wins out.
Lou on camera
It’s notable that Lou never appears on camera. He is content hiding out behind the scenes, filming footage that will then appear on the news. However, Lou is truly the one in control of the news. While Nina strong-arms him first, Lou begins to hold the bargaining power as his footage becomes more and more disturbing. So in this moment when he sits in the anchor’s chair while the cameras are off air, it becomes symbolic of capitalism’s stronghold over the media. Ultimately, the moneymaker is in charge of what’s aired and what’s considered “news.”
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