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What is Nightcrawler about?
Nightcrawler explores the themes of ambition, the media, and the dark side of the American Dream. Lou is portrayed as a driven but morally ambiguous character who is willing to do whatever it takes to achieve success, even if it means breaking the law or exploiting others. Lou’s character represents the American Dream at its worst, where success is defined by wealth and power, and where one’s own needs and desires take precedence over everything else.
The film also delves into the role of the media in modern society. Lou’s character is a reflection of the darker side of the media industry, where sensationalism and profit drive the news cycle. Lou’s footage is repeatedly shown on local news channels, where it attracts high ratings and earns him money. However, the film also portrays the media as complicit in the crimes Lou is committing, as they continue to air his footage without questioning the morality of how it was obtained.
Nightcrawler also examines the relationship between power and control. Lou is portrayed as a manipulative and calculating character who uses his camera to control the situations he films. He is constantly seeking ways to gain more power and control over his environment, often at the expense of others. Lou’s character is a commentary on the nature of power in modern society, where individuals are willing to exploit others for their own gain.
Movie Guide table of contents
- 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
The ending of Nightcrawler explained
A recap of Nightcrawler‘s ending
Lou tracks down the gunmen who committed the triple homicide in Granada Hills. His plan is to follow them to a crowded area, call the police, and then record the ensuing confrontation. But Rick is frightened by the plan, and demands half of the money Lou stands to make from the footage or he’ll tell the police about the footage Lou withheld. Lou agrees.
They track the gunmen to a diner where the gunmen are eating. Rick realizes that Lou has gone too far and is engaging in unethical and illegal behavior. Rick confronts Lou and tells him that he wants no part in what is happening. Lou, however, is undeterred and tells Rick that he is welcome to leave but that he is going to stay and capture the footage.
A shootout ensues, and one of the gunmen escapes in his car. Lou and Rick follow as the police chase the gunman. Eventually, the gunman crashes. Lou pushes Rick to capture some footage of the dead gunman—but it turns out the gunman isn’t dead, and he fatally shoots Rick. Lou films everything, including the police shooting and killing the gunman. Lou then approaches the dying Rick 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.”
Lou returns to the news station with the video footage. Nina is disturbed by the video footage, but ultimately blown away and impressed by it. Just before the footage is set to air, Frank approaches Nina after he discovers from a source that the homicide originally took place as a drug raid and not a home invasion. But Nina wants to push forward with the sensational and deadly news footage. “The story is urban crime creeping into the suburbs—that’s the story,” she says. “Jesus,” Frank responds, “you sound like Lou.” “I think Lou is inspiring us all to reach a little higher,” she says.
Lou is then questioned by the police, who suspect that he may have had a role in the staged crime scene. However, Lou manages to avoid prosecution by using his charm and manipulation skills to convince the detectives that he is innocent.
The film’s final scene shows Lou speaking to several new employees that he has hired for his growing business. He gives a speech about the importance of hard work, determination, and the pursuit of success.
The meaning of Nightcrawler‘s ending
The ending of Nightcrawler is a powerful conclusion to a story that is ultimately about the dark side of the American Dream and the ethical standards of the media industry. The movie’s final scenes have significant thematic implications, highlighting the consequences of chasing growth and profit at any cost and the potential danger of media sensationalism.
The conversation between Rick and Lou is a powerful moment that encapsulates the grislier aspects of ambition. Lou’s character is driven by a desire for achievement and a need for control, which ultimately leads him down a disturbing path. He is willing to do whatever it takes to achieve his goals, even if it means breaking the law or exploiting others. Their conversation raises important questions about the nature of friendship and the consequences of driving a company forward at any cost. Lou’s persistence as a businessman has cost him his humanity and his ability to form meaningful relationships. He is ultimately alone, driven by his own capitalistic appetite and desire for control.
The movie’s final scenes also highlight the potential danger of media sensationalism when it is not balanced with responsibility. Lou stages a shootout in order to capture footage that he believes will be even more sensational, and he manipulates the crime scene to make it more dramatic. The scene is a clear violation of journalistic ethics, but Lou is driven by his capitalistic obsessions and his belief that the ends justify the means. The footage that Lou captures is highly sensationalized and portrays violence in a way that is both graphic and alarming. The film raises important questions about the role of the media in perpetuating violence and negative stereotypes, and the responsibility of the media to report the news accurately and ethically.
The final scene of Nightcrawler when Lou speaks to his employees has significant thematic implications that highlight the darker aspects of ambition and the media industry. Lou’s speech is a chilling reminder of his character and the potential danger of being driven by a capitalist system. The speech is highly manipulative and narcissistic, as he tells his employees that they are the best and that they should always strive to be the best. He talks about the importance of hard work and determination, but it is clear that his definition of success is based solely on profit and ratings, rather than moral considerations. The scene is a reminder that Lou’s character is still the same manipulative and ruthless individual he was at the beginning of the film, driven by his desire for financial growth and his willingness to exploit others for his own gain.
It’s a powerful, cynical twist on the underdog story that’s so popular in American cinema. You have films like The Pursuit of Happyness that enshrine this idea of the American Dream where you start from nothing, grind your way up, and make a better life for you and your family. Nightcrawler has the same story beats and happy ending. Except Lou is a morally bankrupt person. It creates a conflicting response in the viewer, as this narrative structure is something we’re used to seeing with positive, likable people. We root for them. But should we root for Lou? Probably not. But he’s wormed his way into this structure and exploited it and us. So that by the end, there’s an implicit, trained part of us that feels satisfaction at the “underdog” finding success. A feeling that is probably immediately checked by a sense of disgust that the system would reward such a person. The sad thing is, it happens every day. There are thousands of Lou’s who have no morality and only want to get ahead.
Nightcrawler is an indictment of a 21st century culture that’s rewarding the heartless more than the heartfelt.
The themes and meaning of Nightcrawler
The American Dream
The American Dream is a central theme in Nightcrawler and is depicted in a dark and unsettling way. The character of Lou Bloom embodies the darker side of the American Dream, where success is defined by wealth and power, and one’s own needs and desires take precedence over everything else.
Lou is a character who is driven by ambition and is willing to do whatever it takes to achieve his goals, even if it means breaking the law or exploiting others. He is a self-made man who sees himself as a pioneer, an entrepreneur, and an innovator. He is not content with living an ordinary life and is constantly seeking ways to gain power and control over his environment.
Throughout the film, Lou’s character becomes increasingly ruthless in his hunt for success. He manipulates crime scenes, stages crimes, and intervenes in emergencies, all in the pursuit of capturing the most sensational footage. He uses his camera to control the situations he films, often at the expense of others.
However, the film also portrays the American Dream as an illusion that is unattainable for many people. Lou’s success is built on the exploitation of others, including his assistant and the victims of crimes that he films. The movie suggests that the American Dream is a myth that is perpetuated by those who benefit from it and that it is ultimately destructive.
Nightcrawler challenges the traditional notion of the American Dream, where success is achieved through hard work and determination. Instead, the film presents a darker, more complex view of the American Dream, where success is achieved through manipulation and a willingness to break the law. Lou’s character represents the darker side of the American Dream, where ambition and success come at a great cost to oneself and others.
The role of media
The role of media is a significant theme in Nightcrawler. The movie portrays the media industry as one that is driven by excess and profit, where the pursuit of ratings and viewership takes precedence over ethics and responsibility.
The film’s protagonist, Lou Bloom, is a freelance crime journalist who sells footage to local news channels. Lou’s footage is graphic and often involves crimes that have just occurred, which makes it incredibly valuable to news outlets seeking to attract high ratings. However, Lou’s quest for the most dramatic footage leads him to cross ethical and legal boundaries repeatedly.
The movie highlights the potential danger of media aggrandizement when it is not balanced with responsibility. In one scene, Lou stages a crime scene to make it more dramatic, and the footage is later aired on a local news channel without question. The movie shows how the media can perpetuate violence and reinforce negative stereotypes by portraying crime in a sensationalized way.
Furthermore, Nightcrawler depicts the media as complicit in Lou’s unethical and illegal behavior. While some reporters are uncomfortable with Lou’s tactics, they continue to purchase and air his footage because it generates high ratings and profits. This depiction raises questions about the responsibility of the media to report the news ethically and accurately, and whether the media is contributing to the problem of crime rather than reporting on it.
The movie also shows how the media can affect public perception and opinion. Lou’s footage is often shown in a way that reinforces negative stereotypes and prejudices about certain communities, particularly those that are economically disadvantaged. The film raises questions about the media’s role in shaping public perception and whether the media has a responsibility to be more balanced in its reporting.
Why is the movie called Nightcrawler?
The title Nightcrawler refers to the idea of being a “crawling” or low-level individual who is willing to do whatever it takes to succeed. Lou’s character embodies this idea, as he is willing to break the law and exploit others to achieve his goals. The title is a nod to the darker aspects of ambition and the potential consequences of pursuing success at any cost.
In an interview with Collider, director Dan Gilroy spoke about the inspiration behind the title of the film, stating, “I think the title was a metaphor for Lou. It’s the one creature that feeds on the dead and thrives in the dark, and is actually part of the cleanup crew of the ecosystem. That’s Lou. He’s there when things die, he’s there when things are decaying, he’s there to feed on them and then to use them to make his own existence better.”
“Nightcrawlers” are a very real community, especially in the Los Angeles area (where the movie takes place). Gilroy discussed in this interview with ScreenSlam, a nightcrawler is someone who roams the cityscape at night with a police scanner. They drive at high speeds to capture footage of criminal activity. Specifically, according to Gilroy’s interview with The New Yorker, the character Lou is based on a popular photographer named Weegee, who captured jarring late-night incidents in New York in the 1930s and 40s.
The title of the movie may also refer to the nocturnal insect that feeds on decaying matter. This metaphor serves to underscore the film’s central themes of decay, corruption, and exploitation. Lou’s character, the “nightcrawler” of the film, is a manipulative and ruthless individual who preys on the tragedies and misfortunes of others to advance his career in the media industry.
Important motifs in Nightcrawler
The motif of surveillance is present throughout the film, as Lou uses various forms of technology to monitor the city for crimes and accidents. In one scene, Lou installs a police scanner in his car, saying “If it bleeds, it leads,” a clear indication of his intentions to capture footage of violent events. Lou’s use of surveillance is presented as a tool to advance his career in the media industry, and the film portrays the darker implications of this practice. The most prominent example of surveillance is when Lou sets up his own surveillance equipment to capture footage of a crime scene, manipulating the situation for the benefit of his career. This scene highlights the potentially dangerous consequences of using surveillance for personal gain.
The motif of ambition is central to the film, as Lou’s character is driven by a desire for success and a need for control. In one scene, he tells his assistant, Rick, that he doesn’t want to be a nobody anymore and that he wants to be a somebody. He is willing to do whatever it takes to achieve his goals, even if it means breaking the law or exploiting others. For example, Lou manipulates a crime scene to make it more dramatic, telling Rick, “I’ll bet you a hundred dollars, the victim is going to be white.” Lou’s ambition ultimately leads him to cross ethical and legal boundaries, which eventually leads to the tragic ending of the film.
Lou’s character is highly manipulative, using his charm and wit to trick others for his own gain. This is best exemplified by a moment where Lou lies to the police about being an undercover officer to gain access to a crime scene. This scene highlights the dangers of manipulation and how it can be used to further selfish interests at the expense of others.
In one scene, he tells Nina, the news director, that his footage is “like a form of screaming,” knowing that she will be drawn to the sensational nature of his work. He is willing to lie, cheat, and deceive in order to get what he wants, such as when he lies to the police about being an undercover officer to gain access to a crime scene.
The film also explores the motif of exploitation, as Lou’s character exploits the tragedies and misfortunes of others to advance his career in the media industry. He is willing to profit off of the suffering of others, even if it means violating ethical and legal boundaries. In one scene, he tells Rick, “I want something people can’t turn away from,” showing his willingness to exploit even the most gruesome and disturbing events for his own gain. Lou’s exploitation of human tragedy for personal gain highlights the darker aspects of the media industry and its potential to desensitize viewers to violence and suffering.
The motif of decay is present throughout the film, as Lou’s character preys on the decaying and deteriorating aspects of society to further his own goals. He is shown as a scavenger, feeding on the misfortunes of others to advance his own career. In one scene, he tells Nina that “a lot of crime is underreported,” showing his awareness of the seedy and corrupt aspects of society that he can exploit for his own gain.
Questions & answers about Nightcrawler
Why is Lou Bloom so interested in crime journalism?
Lou is drawn to the world of nightcrawling because he sees it as a way to achieve success and recognition. He is fascinated by the gruesome and violent nature of the crimes he films, and he believes that he can make a name for himself by capturing shocking footage that will grab the attention of news outlets.
Why does Lou become increasingly unethical as the movie progresses?
Lou’s behavior becomes more and more unethical as he becomes more successful in the world of crime journalism. He is willing to manipulate and exploit others to get the footage he wants, and he has no qualms about crossing ethical lines in pursuit of his goals. As he becomes more successful, he also becomes more detached from his own humanity, and he begins to see people as nothing more than potential subjects for his camera. Ultimately, his behavior is reminiscent of anyone chasing the American Dream.
Why does Lou go to such great lengths to get the best footage?
Lou is driven by a deep sense of ambition and a desire for success. He believes that the more shocking and gruesome his footage is, the more valuable it will be to news outlets, and the more successful he will become. He also sees himself as a self-made man who can achieve anything he sets his mind to, and he is willing to go to extreme lengths to prove this to himself and others.
Now it’s your turn
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