Louis Bloom, the main character in Nightcrawler (2014; dir Dan Gilroy), played by Jake Gyllenhaal, has the classic traits that I associate with psychopaths. He absolutely lacks in empathy. He's singleminded in pursuit of his ambition to become known, wealthy, and successful. He walks with a curiously stiff gait, in short steps, holding his arms flat against the sides of his body. His state is focused and without emotion. He exploits people without guilt or even awareness that he is exploiting them. He shows personal interest in one person, the news team leader Nina Romina played by Rene Russo, and part of the reason is that she is much like him. Another part of the reason is that she is his avenue to success—she can buy the footage he takes of accident scenes throughout the city. Gyllenhaal’s character was not merely unlikeable. It made me deeply uncomfortable to watch him and his treatment of other human beings.
Louis is entirely self-created. After watching two videographers film the scene of a car wreck and learning that tv stations will buy video footage for money, he buys equipment with the proceeds of stolen goods and starts filming. He is fearless and puts himself and his assistant at risk. To rid himself of a competing team of videographers, he cuts cables in their car so that they have a wreck. He reaches the point of arranging crime scenes so that he can film them. In the end, he sets his own assistant up to be shot dead, all so that he can film the event.
Such verminous figures prowl the landscape of our nation in numerous guises and forms. The idea that they can, as they often do, go free is not encouraging. It doesn’t make for a rewarding film either.