ually, these two would be reversed but since I saw the movie first, we go with the movie first. Spoilers exist below.
- First and developing impressions of characters —> Louis Bloom: looks like a lean coyote; like a fucking predator. He smiles too wide, there’s a disturbing lack of emotion and depth in his eyes. He is extremely ambitious, and his motivation is money. He is ruthless and he will stop at nothing to get what he wants. He talks like a self-help book or internet motivational guides. Does he believe in what he says? He may very well. It’s actually quite scary, because who really believes that crap?
(I love how they show you a coyote as well. I actually read an interview where Jake Gyllenhaal and Dan Gilroy, I think, describe him as that.)
- When he assaults the officer and takes his watch, I was reminded of Patrick Bateman. Actually, Louis reminds me of an everyman’s version of Patrick—the sociopath that the lower to middle class person can relate to more.
- When he steps to see the accident on the highway, he’s obviously completely unconcerned with the fact that he may be wanted for the assault of an officer.
- Moreover, why does he stop at the accident? Concern? Curiosity? It seems to be completely the latter rather than the former.
- During the scene where he moves the body to get a better shot for his camera, we see him interrogating the motorist who is calling 911. He obviously cares more about the job than the victim. This cements his complete and utter indifference and distaste for humans. Later on, we hear one of the victims in the Horror House moaning, and Louis does absolutely nothing.
- The first and pretty much only emotion in the entire movie that Louis exhibits is anger, when his competitor bests him and when he doesn’t get what he wants.
- Who wins the scenes between Lou and Nina? Always Lou, never Nina. He always has the upper hand, even though we are led to believe she is in a position of power over him. This is false. At the time, it didn’t seem that the cinematography lent anything to support this, but I’m probably going to have to re-watch their scenes together to see for sure.
- Rick tells him he doesn’t understand people. This is false. He understands people probably better than anyone else, either in the movie, or really outside of it. Even though he does have a very strange way of behaving occasionally and it can be off-putting, that does not invalidate his understanding of people.
- When Rick refuses to negotiate, Lou looks a bit lost. Because he was made to feel helpless by someone that was his inferior (because there are other times in the movie where Lou is not allowed to negotiate, but they were always in a position where they had what Lou wanted—> money…but this is the only time where Lou has the upper hand and he is made to feel like a fool), he killed him.
- The scene at the end between Nina and Louis where she tells him how amazing his footage is and she tells him she wants it and he says “How much do you want it?” and she answers “You tell me”, it is shown as a very intimate, almost romantic scene. The dialogue is actually a bit sexy, in any other situation, it would be lustful, they’re shot in profile, looking straight at each other, inching closer, their faces dark against the background…which is the TV screen showing Rick bleeding to death. I love the way this scene was shot. It is perverse because we know there is nothing sexy about it or that Nina even really wants him, but she is forced to do what he tells her because he has that control over her. I was also reminded by that scene in which he tells her that one of the things he wants from her is for her to do what he tells her to do when they’re together.
- The last line: “I wouldn’t ask you to do anything I wouldn’t do myself”. The scary part is that he’s telling the truth. Throughout the movie, we see that he has absolutely no concern over the safety of others or himself, he is only interesting in his goal. He would kill himself, and gladly, if that meant him getting the best shot.
- Something that I found very refreshing and that I really appreciated greatly was that there was no sex scene. In my opinion, there are way too many sex scenes in movies and they don’t make them any better, if anything, they actually detract from the quality, because they are so unnecessary. However, I would actually say that in this movie, a sex scene would not have detracted from the quality. I think it actually would have been interesting to see an emphasis of his manipulation on Nina. Simply a scene where they have a conversation beforehand could have sufficed, though I would be interested in seeing what Gilroy would have had his sociopath act like in bed. That’s just me, though.
- Criticisms and questions: It would have been a good idea to see him delete the footage and the screenshots he took. Also, there’s a moment where he asks Rick to open the window and Rick asks him why and Lou says ‘Because I told you so’. There was no reason for it. He also tells Rick about the man who wasn’t dead in the Horror House. Why? And then, at the end, the murderer sees Lou but doesn’t kill him (after he’s shot Rick). To me, that didn’t make any sense. It also didn’t make sense at the end when Nina refuses to go with the cocaine horror house news, and just to let it be the way it is. She should have known that it would have blown the story away.
Overall, I really enjoyed the movie. It was an interesting concept, and I always like to see how sociopaths and psychopaths are portrayed in the media. The acting was very good, but Jake Gyllenhaal really was the one who shone. I would say that he carried the movie and if it weren’t for him, it wouldn’t have been half as engaging.
It did bring up some good questions though, especially about how the public, us in general, like to see blood, gore, and unusual titillating things. This reminded me of the episode of Black Mirror, “The National Anthem”, where everyone, though they were sort of disgusted, still watched the Prime Minister fuck a pig. There’s this draw to these sorts of things that we, as a human race, have, and I honestly think it goes beyond us. I think that other animals as well would have this draw to it.
I read this interview with Gilroy and I thought it was incredibly interesting that he said this: “I’m interested in the idea that sociopaths are not these rare people that you rarely encounter. I feel they’re walking amongst us, and to some degree, we all have tendencies that are not dissimilar and on a good day, we’re aware of those tendencies and we counterbalance them.” It reminds me of the whole us/them dynamic and how it’s not always as simple or true as that.
- First impression: really weird format. There are no real traditional slug lines.
- Example of strange format (pg. 5):
the effect is electrifying as
THE POLICE CHOPPER
banks low and
smash glass and
THE CAMERA GUYS
film as an
skids to a stop…”
However, I do feel as though the way the script is written actually enhances the scene.
- On pg. 7, the description is very well-written. Gilroy’s got style.
against an anthracite SKY…night-black tinting day-blue…”
The scene where we transition from the accident to Lou’s apartment was not included in the movie, unfortunately. I think would have made a very visually stimulating scene.
- I love the way he describes the news anchors…”teeth-bleached MAN”, “plastic PEOPLE…mock cheer”, HAIR-SPRAYED ANCHORS”, “Ken doll ANCHORMAN and pin-up ANCHORWOMAN peddling unvarnished fear and mayhem.”
- Character descriptions: Lou—>”30…pure primal id…if there’s music it’s in his head…disconnected…feral…driven by dollar signs and a dream of some imagined Eden.” ; Nina: 50-ish, over-made, hard-bitten beauty who…through sheer survival, bec[a]me the madam of the whore-house” ; Rick: a young man, ragged and rangy ; Detective Frontieri: WOMAN
- The writer doesn’t explain the character’s emotions, he lets the dialogue do the explaining. He doesn’t spoonfeed the readers.
- The way Lou is written, as I mentioned before, reminds me of Patrick Bateman, but I say this, specifically in the script, because there are moments where Lou is very specific with details and then asks a completely unrelated question that puts the other character he’s having the conversation with (and the reader) off. For example, when he asks Nina out.
- The way Rick dies is changed in the movie. I like the movie version better, but the script version makes a lot more sense as to why the murderer didn’t kill Lou.
- The quasi-romantic scene between Lou and Nina at the end did not come off that way in the script at all.
- The movie made the script come to life. The way that Gyllenhaal delivered the lines is magnificent. He really took the character and put substance, meat on him.
The script feels a bit bare. Lou is not really shown very clearly in my opinion, and it took Gyllenhaal to really give him depth and personality. The format of the script is interesting, but untraditional, so I think it would be better if I took a look at other scripts with more traditional formats to base mine off of.
As a personal observation…There was no race/ethnicity inclusion in the character descriptions at all. Out of the four main characters, two are male, two female. In the movie, out of the two males, one (Lou) is white, and the other (Rick) is a POC. From the females, one (Nina) is white, and the other (Detective) is a POC.
So, half-half on both the gender and race lines, but I do have to mention that Lou and Nina are the “main” characters, while Rick and the Detective are more minor characters.