FRIDAY NIGHT MOVIE REVIEW: Last night, for my last film-watch as an eighteen-year-old, I saw “Nocturnal Animals,” which stars Amy Adams (Arrival, Catch Me If You Can), Jake Gyllenhaal (Nightcrawler, Southpaw), Michael Shannon (Midnight Special, Man of Steel), Aaron Taylor-Johnson (Avengers: Age of Ultron, Godzilla ), Isla Fisher (Now You See Me, Hot Rod), Armie Hammer (The Lone Ranger , The Man from U.N.C.L.E. ), Ellie Bamber (Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, The Falling), Karl Glusman (Love, The Neon Demon), Laura Linney (The Truman Show, Mystic River), and Robert Aramayo (Lost in Florence, Game of Thrones [TV series]). It is directed by Tom Ford (A Single Man), who also wrote the screenplay. When an art gallery owner named Susan (Adams) receives a novel proof from her ex-husband entitled “Nocturnal Animals,” she becomes enthralled, often thinking about her former lover once more only to discover something twisted lurking behind this work of fiction.
If you’re looking for sadness, depression, and utter loneliness, you’ve come to the right movie. “Nocturnal Animals” seems to be a film that you either understand or you don’t, but I’m sure that all of us can agree that it is a well-crafted feature aesthetically. Tom Ford, known for his only directorial “A Single Man,” had a vision walking into this production, and I could feel it seeping through every shot. From the production design to the variations of cinematography to the stellar performances, this release has what it takes to be a quintessential piece of cinema. However, interpretation holds it back. What I found to be compelling about this story was it’s writing. My goodness, was this tale captivating, and when I say that I’m referring to the novel that Susan reads. It’s dark, depressing, and brooding with doom and gloom, but I liked it. The story put me on edge and I grew so attached to it that I wanted to see how it played out; Susan surely did too. What happens inside the pages is rather straightforward, though what happens outside and how you correlate the book to reality is what essentially determines your opinion of he feature. I’ll admit that this is a bizarre movie in the way it is executed. Susan lives in the world of art, which is full of pompous individuals and weird art exhibits. I hated the first ten minutes of this film, which was basically slow motion of naked fat women; the focal piece of Susan’s exhibit (yes, the movie showed everything). Susan’s life was a bit predictable in watching and I didn’t care for her story as much as I did Edward’s (Gyllenhaal). She did have some interesting details, specifically pertaining to the flashbacks that gave further meaning to what Edward was doing, but overall I was truly engaged with the novel she read. The use of location and cinematography in Edward’s tale about Tony Hastings (Gyllenhaal) is what I enjoy to look at, with the grit and dirt of the west combined with the griminess of those who lurk in it. Jake Gyllenhaal and Michael Shannon were excellent; superb, if I might add. I loved their chemistry and it was amazing to see them working together on the same screen (they’re two of my favorite actors). Amy Adams also did exceptional, as well as the supporting roles portrayed by Armie Hammer, Aaron Taylor-Johnson, and Isla Fischer. The performances of this had to be the best part of the entire production, and Ford deserves credit for pushing them in each scene. On a side note, I also loved the way this was edited. The flow from scene to scene is what kept me captivated for almost two hours, and I liked how it made me actually feel like I was reading a novel when it jumped to the book’s story. It was well done in that field. Throughout the course of this feature, there’s no doubt that I was engaged, wanting to know how this would end. Really, as I was watching it, I had no clue because the story wasn’t structured the same way as most. There was no beginning, middle, or end because it was all about a woman reading her ex-husband’s book and looking back on her life with him. Sure, things escalated and climaxes were somewhat reached, but not in the typical fashion that I can predict. The only thing I knew was what Susan did to Edward that was wrong. It’s rather obvious when a married couple breaks up in film and you wonder why (though I will say that there was an added layer to it that I didn’t see coming). When the ending happened, I had to look it up for further explanation. Looking back now, I should’ve known all along; I must’ve been too tired to comprehend. It’s not an easy ending to grasp, but once you do everything makes sense. I thought it was a great conclusion because it asks the audience to gather up all the information that was shown to them and piece it together themselves. The viewers are clued in to figure it out rather than have the filmmakers blatantly tell them. No, this isn’t “Lost” nor is it some sort of artsy fartsy film you have no clue what’s going on. The ending is rather simple to get; I’m just saying that it was good. Did I find this to be an incredible movie all around? No. It all comes down to taste in the end, and while Ford did a brilliant job piecing this story together, I just didn’t find it to be magnificent. It’s still a really good feature that I recommend anyone looking for something deep to watch, though I will say that most of you may walk away not liking it. “Nocturnal Animals” just has that vibe. Overall, while it’s professionally made and is incredibly engaging, this film falls short of becoming legendary due to the matter of opinion. FINAL SCORE: 86%= Juicy Popcorn
Here is the trailer: