On one level, the film works as a bleak satire of the immoral, inherently capitalist sensationalism that is increasingly taking over television (actually it's about ethics in
Liking this character is obviously impossible, so Gyllenhaal makes us love to hate him instead. His lean physicality (he lost 20 pounds for the role), his slick hair and his creepy, weirdly punchable grin give him an eerie aura of menace and send shivers down your spine. His performance is by some distance the film's greatest strength and he manages to turn Louis Bloom into a truly memorable, unique antihero.
That said, Nightcrawler doesn't quite reach the heights of its role models. The satire is at times too simplistic, while it feels too exaggerated to work as a human drama. I wasn't as shocked by the foulness of L.A. after sunset as the film wanted me to be either. Perhaps the fact that the copious blood on the streets left me slightly nonplussed, is actually the shocking thing about Nightcrawler.