Nocturnal Animals – 4.5/5

Credits:

  • Rating – R

  • Genre – Drama, Thriller

  • Director – Tom Ford

  • Screenplay – Tom Ford

  • Cast – Amy Adams / Jake Gyllenhaal / Michael Shannon / Isla Fisher/ Aaron Taylor-Johnson/ Armie Hammer / Ellie Bamber

  • Distributer – Focus Features

  • Release date – December 9th, 2016 (wide release – USA)

Overall Impression:

This was probably one of the most intense movies I’ve watched all year! Between the phenomenally picturesque shots to the haunting and seamlessly interwoven metaphor for love, revenge and violence we see, this film was well done.  The acting was amazing, though I would’ve liked to see more character development for Taylor-Johnson’s character. As for the story, it definitely made me think and kept me hyper engaged and aware at all times. I would absolutely suggest watching it twice to allow everything to really settle in. There are many narratives going on at once in this film, from Morrow and Sheffield’s past marriage and Morrow’s present day life to the metaphorical events in the novel. It really makes you think about who you were and who you’ve become… and what you want.

 nocturnalanimals2

Synopsis:

Art Gallery owner Susan Morrow (Adams) receives a completed manuscript from her estranged ex-husband, Edward Sheffield (Gyllenhaal), after 20 years of silence. While Morrow reads the novel we are taken both into the story of the book and through flashes of Morrows past marriage with Sheffield.  As the novel continues, the suspense and violence that begins to take on a metaphorical similarity to their marriage, ultimately plagues Morrow and forces her to contemplate the symbolism of his book and her life.

Positives:

  • The exposition was minimal and very concise. There was no scene at the beginning that felt drawn out simply for the sake of setting the story/ tone. Everything was paced in a way that gave you just enough information to continue to the plot

  • The visuals were something special in this film. During several of the scenes when Morrow or Sheffield was alone the shots looked like works of art – paintings. Also, the large REVENGE portrait hanging in her gallery further highlighted the tone. Fords careful use of colour and tints, as well as the set design, is seen in many of the scenes and often has some sort of symbolism attached to it. For example the stark clinical white, concrete and glass of Morrows home are suggestive of her cold personality, where in contrast, the deep reds and greens that tint Hastings’ (Gyllenhaal) face at various points in the film represent rage.

Negatives:

  • Tom Ford could’ve fleshed out Taylor-Johnson’s character, Ray Marcus (gang leader), a bit more. We see him and get a sense of who he is at the beginning but as the novel progresses it would have been nice to see him react more to the situation, if even just during his one-on-one interactions with Hastings.

  • The pacing of the novel scenes in the movie was a bit drawn out. There were moments in a few of the scenes with Hastings and Lt. Andes (Shannon) that seemed to go on for a bit longer than necessary. One of the police office scenes and a bit of the diner scene comes to mind. It just had a hollow feel to it, as though on its own, the novel part wouldn’t have been as engaging as the film in its entirety.

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