Jake Gyllenhaal's Noir Thriller

October 31, 2014 1:32 PM

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According to Merriam-Webster, a nightcrawler is just an earthworm used for fish bait. There’s nothing particularly menacing about that. But Lou Bloom, the subject of writer-director Dan Gilroy’s smart, semi-profound new thriller, is no wriggling victim. He’s a predator and a parasite, a bottom feeder who’ll find you at your lowest point and bite you in the butt as he takes your picture. Lou, played by Jake Gyllenhaal with the smiling stare of a Boy Scout tinged with madness, is a freelance news cameraman; he shoots video of grieving widows, home-invasion casualties and human roadkill for Los Angeles TV stations. He’s the original Paparazzo of Fellini’s La Dolce Vita updated to the TMZ age.

The initials of that tabloid website stand for Thirty Mile Zone, the radius of glamour and tattle that stretches from the old movie studios in Burbank to the porn factories in the San Fernando Valley. That’s the beat that Lou pounds. Not long ago he was a petty thief who stole barricades from work s...

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