Jake Gyllenhaal is Lou Bloom, a very sleazy guy in Los Angeles who wants to get ahead and is not very concerned if that means stepping over some ethical and even legal boundaries.
By pure chance he is at a highway accident scene one night and finds out it is possible to actually make good money by just filming accident and crime scenes and selling the footage to T.V. stations. He gets himself a camera and a police scanner and decides this is the business for him.
Lou Bloom soon finds out the two realities of the business. The first is that there is a lot competition out there. He has to compete with Joe Loder (excellently played by Bill Paxton). Loder has better cameras, better connections and more experience. Lou Bloom realizes that to beat the competition we will have to be willing to do something extra.
The second reality in the business is that the T.V. stations want blood. “If it bleeds it leads” is the saying in local news.
Bloom is not some innocent guy who slowly becomes jaded by the news business. He is already sort of a sociopath before he even starts. He has no qualms at all about what he is doing and absolutely no feeling of compassion for the bleeding or dying people he is filming. Those characteristics are exactly what makes him rise very quickly in his new profession.
Lou sells his scenes of death to Nina, the news director of local Channel 6. She is portrayed by Rene Russo. Nina desperately needs what Lou has to sell. She is the news directors of the lowest rated station and her contract is coming up for renewal (or cancellation) soon. She is no longer the young beautiful news reporter she once was, and if she cannot increase ratings she will be out of a job and out of T.V. news for good.
Nina doesn’t care how Lou is getting his pictures. When others ask questions about how it is possible he is getting to crime scenes even before the police do, she does not want to know the answers. Lou is getting her what she needs and she is willing to give him whatever he wants to get it.
This is an exciting and fast paced movie. It has a lot of action sequences and at the same time brings up some very disturbing truths about T.V. news as it exists today. Like the fact that violent crimes in White neighborhoods get higher ratings than the exact same crimes in a Black neighborhood.
There are even small asides about how ridiculous the local news is. For example, it is noted that the news Director always tries to get the Weather Girl (played by Anne McDaniels) to stand sideways to the camera when giving the weather. Of course, this is to make sure that her lovely breasts are more prominently displayed for the viewers.
Michael Hyatt plays a tough police detective who is very suspicious of of Bloom and what he may be hiding. She would very much like to get her hands on some of his unedited video. Of course Bloom is able to hide behind the shield of journalistic integrity and freedom of the press.
Riz Ahmed is great as Rick, a naive assistant Lou Bloom hires. Rick is enthusiastic and not too bright, which is exactly why he was hired. Bloom thinks he is great until even Rick begins to figures out t what is really going on.
This is an excellent film and we highly recommend it. After you see it when you go home and watch the local news, you may find it frighting to see how similar it is to the movie.
The next time you watch some especially gory or disturbing images on the news you may find yourself asking this question. “What did they really do to get those pictures?
We give this film our highest rating of Five Stars *****