Self-Esteem and Body Image
Self-Esteem and Body Image: 3 Stars
Nightcrawler smartly casts Rene Russo as Nina, rather than taking the more conventional route of casting an actress who is younger or fresher. Nina clearly feels that her star is fading, but the film portrays her as a woman who is still desirable, despite her maturity - setting a bold example for other filmmakers to follow. It's possible that the writers and directors wanted an older woman for the sake of making Nina look more powerless or desperate. It's also possible that the hard truth of the way that Lou manipulates her would be a bit harder to stomach if she were young and innocent - and that this would've turned Lou into more of a villain than they wanted him to be. The decision to go with an older actress is complicated and can be interpreted multiple ways, but the success of Nina's interactions with Lou onscreen proves that women of all ages have a lot of value to add to a story. And that seasoned actresses still have tremendous talent and ability to light up a screen.
Room for Improvement:
Gender Roles - Women
Gender Roles - Men
Rape and Violence Against Women
Gender Roles - Women: 2 Stars
Nina is both ambitious and authoritative, but she's also heartless. She places her ratings
above any broader social goals and even above the truth. She seems to have lost any sense of compassion or ethical standards
At times it appears as if Nina has very little decision-making authority at all. Her hands are tied by the demands of viewers, which has lead her to create the crime driven, sensationalized newscasts that she delivers. The result is that she appears more jaded and unhealthy than powerful. She's forced to become little more than a mouthpiece for irrational, racist fears. And by the end of the film, it's clear that the
pressure is enough bow her, even when she's asked to do things she finds distasteful.
Gender Roles - Men: 0 Stars (Spoilers)
Louis Bloom is as heartless and ambitious as Nina, but he seems to be a lot better at getting what he wants. Not necessarily because he's smarter or more talented, but because he has even less moral scruples or concern for people than she has. Lou is selfish, egotistical and borderline criminal.
And though Nightcrawler never suggests that he is meant to be viewed as the "good guy," the film does celebrate his sociopathic behavior - and makes sure that he comes out triumphant in the end.
Plot: 1 Star (Spoilers)
Nina isn't a major player in Nightcrawler. She is more or less a victim of Lou's cruel self-obsession. When the film opens Nina clearly has the upper hand, but it isn't long before she's fighting to maintain control as their relationship morphs into something darker. At any point in the film, she could have taken the advice of her more compassionate and level-headed colleague - and fought against some of the depravity that is taking over the news industry. She might have pushed back against the sensationalized fear-mongering that she's forced to sell. As Lou's footage gets darker and darker, she might have caught a glimpse of herself in him and realized what it is that she's finally become. She might have fought to regain her sense of humanity. But instead, Lou breaks her down into little more than a puppet. She ultimately embraces the transformation, accepting the fact that he's better than her at being wicked. She obediently follows his lead not because she has no other choice, but because she foolishly believes that he can help her maintain her sliver of imaginary power.
Character Development: 1 Star
Nina is an intriguing character who could have easily carried her own film. We know that she was once a reporter and probably had dreams of exposing political corruption and corporate greed. But over time the industry sunk its claws into her, broke apart her idealism and showed her the sad reality that journalism, like anything else, is a business focused on making money - and that truth and ethics have very little to do with the actual product that is produced. Her journey from a bright-eyed reporter to a bitter news director, suddenly confronted with a devious freelancer and an unsettling proposition to put her at the top of the rating chain, could have been an incredibly
powerful story (Some might say a lot more compelling story than that of a lone psychopath trying to make his mark on the world). But unfortunately, Nina's rich but brief history is just one of the many random facts that Lou pulled from the internet for the sake of cornering her and forcing her under his control. It easily lends itself to the imagination of audiences, but very little of it plays out on screen.
Violence Against Women: 1 Star (Spoilers)
Nightcrawler includes a very real and unsettling depiction of a woman who feels forced into a sexual relationship out of concern for her career. Nina struggles to argue her way out of Lou's control, pitching weak facts and losing propositions at him until she realizes that she's out of options. This scene paints a clear and ugly picture of why Lou's manipulation of Nina is so despicable. Unfortunately, it's the scenes that come afterwards that earn Nightcrawler such a low score in this category. If Nina had maintained her sense of anger at having been exploited in such a miserable fashion, the film wouldn't look as if it were condoning this sort of behavior. But to the contrary, Nina gradually resigns herself to this demeaning arrangement, and by the end of the film, even seems grateful for it. She becomes infatuated with the sort of power and acclaim that she believes Lou is bringing her, despite what it cost her.
Lou and Nina's sexual encounters never take place on screen, so we never get a real taste for how uncomfortable or distasteful this sort of proposition is. And in the end, it gets Lou everything he wants - and even seems to leave Nina wholly satisfied. This leaves viewers walking away with the misguided impression that this sort of sexual exploitation isn't quite so appalling when it benefits both parties. That in some circumstances, the end justifies the means.
Louis Bloom is a socially awkward man, educated by the internet and unable to find work - until he stumbles into the world of freelance crime journalism. Lou's disregard of social and moral boundaries gives him a distinct advantage when filming the aftermath of violent crimes and collisions. He sells his footage to a local news director, Nina, who encourages his depraved tactics and inadvertently inspires him to push the envelope even further in his search for the next bloody and breaking story.
Kelly is a labor law