A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Nightcrawler is a crime drama/thriller about an outcast who finds he has a calling filming gory footage for the TV news -- and ends up going to extreme lengths in pursuit of his "talent." There's strong violence -- including shootings, car crashes, blood, and dead bodies -- but the most disturbing thing is the callous, cold nature with which it's all filmed. Language includes multiple uses of "f--k" and a few uses of "s--t." Sex comes up when the lead character negotiates sexual favors with a woman he likes; nothing is shown, but it's referred to. Despite the strong content, older teens might find the film thought provoking -- and come away with some interesting, relevant questions and ideas about the nature of news and the media.
- Parents say
- Kids say
What's the story?
A driven and determined outcast, Louis Bloom (Jake Gyllenhaal) makes his living stealing and selling scrap metal. But when he sees a "nightcrawler" (Bill Paxton) -- i.e. a freelance cameraman in search of news footage -- in action, he decides that it's the life for him. Using knowledge gleaned from the Internet and his salesman skills, he manages to sell some footage to a struggling Los Angeles TV news program run by Nina Romina (Rene Russo), who desperately needs it. As Louis' business grows, he takes on an assistant, Rick (Riz Ahmed), and begins to realize that, rather than simply waiting for it, he can lend a slight assist in actually making the news happen.
Is it any good?
The brother of filmmaker Tony Gilroy (Michael Clayton), screenwriter Dan Gilroy (Real Steel, The Bourne Legacy) makes a dynamic directorial debut with NIGHTCRAWLER. He takes on the cutthroat world of TV news -- which today seems more concerned with spectacle and ratings ("if it bleeds, it leads") than with actual information -- in a way that's startling and not at all angry or preachy. It's a high-speed nocturnal movie, preoccupied with cars and streets, lights and cameras.
Gyllenhaal is a big reason for the movie's electrifying mood. He's gaunt and strange, but intense -- like a hypodermic needle. His eyes stick out of his skull, gleaming like daggers, unwilling to retract until a point is made. You're uncertain just how a creature like this came to be, but it's fascinating watching him work. When he sees the fake cityscape backdrop behind the TV news anchors' desk, he remarks, "it seems so real on TV." But it's all showbiz.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about Nightcrawler's violence. How is it used to tell the story? Is any of it gratuitous? Does it feel thrilling or shocking?
What does Louis' job entail? Is he a journalist? Is he reporting actual news? Why would people need or want to see his footage? Does he cross the line? When/where/how?
What does the movie have to say about media in general?
What is Louis really like? Is he scary? Friendly? Fascinating? Are we drawn to him or repelled by him? Or both?
- In theaters: October 31, 2014
- On DVD or streaming: February 10, 2015
- Cast: Jake Gyllenhaal, Rene Russo, Riz Ahmed
- Director: Dan Gilroy
- Studio: Open Road Films
- Genre: Thriller
- Run time: 117 minutes
- MPAA rating: R
- MPAA explanation: violence including graphic images, and for language
- Last updated: March 13, 2020
For kids who love thrills
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Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.
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