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Jake Gyllenhaal's 'Nightcrawler' Is as Much Our Own Creation as It Is Hollywood's

04/11/2014 23:12 GMT | Updated 04/01/2015 10:59 GMT

Warning: This post contains spoilers.

The immediate after-thought from seeing Dan Gilroy's superb debut Nightcrawler is that the media is generally capable of some pretty terrible things.

Read Steve Rose's excellent history of how the media is portrayed in cinema and television and you'll find that there are plenty of films that endeavour to do the same thing.

Rose's arguments can't be faulted, and on the face of it, Holllywood really does have it out for the newsroom.

At the end of reading it though, it did cross my mind that perhaps this time, Hollywood wasn't creating the agenda, more simply following it.

jake gyllenhaal nightcrawler

On the surface it might appear as though everything's how it should be: Gyllenhaal's sickly eager Louis Bloom is the amalgamation of everything that's awful about the fear-mongering that can take place in today's news.

A person who drives around LA in the middle of the night hunting the 'best' homicide, or the biggest car crash is the perfect target.

The world in which Louis Bloom inhabits is utterly fictional and the characters within it have been magnified to such a degree that the whole experience is lifted to the same pantomime stage that Bale so brilliantly dominates in American Psycho.

Both characters though share something in common, they are ultimately our own creations, not Hollywood's. Where Bateman is the sum of everything that was wrong about the male-dominated lifestyle of New York's financial district, Bloom is simply the result of our own primeval desires to get that daily fix of doom, destruction and ruin.

Playing the part of 'us' is Rene Russo, the veteran news director who is so far down the rabbit hole that all she knows is ratings and how to get them. For her, Bloom is the perfect puppet, one that she ultimately loses control of in spectacular fashion.

Her performance is as vital to the film's as Gyllenhaals; like a cornered tiger she's willing to do literally anything to survive and ultimately, it becomes clear that she may be the more villainous of the two.

Bloom then is the perfect anti-hero. He's a small-time crook who, using a photographic memory and a management consultant's phrase book, suddenly finds a place for his amnesiac lifestyle.

His wide-eyed almost maniacal behaviour simply adds to the thought that while Bateman simply hides his deep hatred for humanity behind a mask of acceptance, Bloom is using his hatred as an unstable ally, letting him do the things that no one else will, while justifying it with a boardroom rhetoric that no one can argue with.

Many of you will have come out of the cinema with Gyllenhaal's performance being the lasting memory that stays with you. Ultimately though it's realising that Gilroy's creation is one we asked for in the first place.