A city of cities, L.A. is America's ignorant ode to ambition, the little wishing to be large, towns and villages dwarfed by the monumental hills on one side, the vast desert beyond, the imposing ocean on the other and the gargantuan sky above. It is a place where the little people go to fashion themselves into larger ones, to see what bland, banal footage they film on their little cameras could potentially make it onto large screens. The illusion of success equates to ambition in Nightcrawler, a misanthropic thriller that trafficks in lurid detail but is driven mostly by its human elements, or at least its misanthropy is. Robert Elswit gives L.A. a strange sheen, neither romantic nor alluring, neither sickly nor disturbing - instead, soulless yet addictive, like the horrid, inhuman processes its characters endure for the measliest of returns. Personally, it's what repels one from them that also attracts one to them. Gilroy's film is full of folk who are full of themselves, and whose determination is what propels them ever further downwards, not upwards. Funny how they always seem to come out on top, then. Nightcrawler's nasty addictive nature extends to a slick score from James Newton Howard, and Jake Gyllenhaal's invaluable performance as an amateur cameraman manipulating his way into business with a faltering TV news network. Gyllenhaal is as aware of himself as his character is, but they share a common tenacity, and both reap considerable rewards. The film, too, is more rewarding than it should be - a pristine package, it's all in service of polishing up a concept and a story that are equally lacking in substance. But Nightcrawler functions excellently as a mildly-perverse quasi-B-movie.