Film Review – Nocturnal Animals (2016)

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Title – Nocturnal Animals (2016)

Director – Tom Ford (A Single Man)

Cast – Amy Adams, Jake Gyllenhaal, Michael Shannon, Aaron Taylor-Johnson, Isla Fisher, Armie Hammer, Laura Linney, Michael Sheen, Andrea Riseborough

Plot – Haunted by her past life and decisions, art gallery owner Susan Morrow (Adams) finds past wounds being opened up once more after receiving an early draft of her ex-husband Edward Sheffield’s (Gyllenhaal) new novel that’s dedicated to her and seemingly centred around a traumatic experience she is responsible for in Edward’s life.

“When you love someone you have to be careful with it, you might never get it again”

Review by Eddie on 16/11/2016

In 2009 fashion designer Tom Ford showed the world he was not your average fashionista with the stylish and moving A Single Man, a film that scored its star Colin Firth a well-deserved Oscar nomination and showed Ford’s keen eye as well as deft hand with his actors.

In the 7 years since A Single Man’s release it seemed as though we may never get to see Ford work his magic behind camera again, but with his adaptation of Austin Wright’s novel, Ford has once more announced himself to the filmmaking world, even though this ice cold thriller doesn’t reach the heights of his searing debut.

Beginning with what can only be described as a truly eye opening and, depending on who you’re watching with (maybe not a film to take your parents to), awkward credits sequence, Nocturnal Animals is a pitch black film with barely a moment for fun and games as Amy Adam’s haunted-by-the-past art gallery owner Susan Morrow finds old horrors brought up within her ex-husbands soon to be released novel that is kindly dedicated to her even though its blood filled story is anything but a glowing memorial to her.

This two pronged narrative approach as Ford swings between Susan’s present state that includes an unhappy marriage to Armie Hammer’s much younger Hutton and her reading of this book that transports her to a world in which Jake Gyllenhaal’s unfortunate Tony Hastings deals with tragedy that leads him to a world in which Michael Shannon’s deadpan detective Bobby Andes and Aaaron Taylor Johnson’s sleazy plumber Ray Marcus inhabit, gives Ford a unique movie playground to work in but there’s sadly little mystery or genuine unexpected payoffs to be found here despite the initial set up and Ford’s calculatedly cold film leaves you feeling like an outsider to a world of rather unlikeable creations.

Adam’s is great as the self-centred Susan but she’s not someone we grow to care for, while Gyllenhaal’s Tony is an initially rather weak protagonist who slowly becomes something more, but the film finds its greatest creations within its darkest ones and Michael Shannon (playing a character that can only be described as Michael Shannon) and Johnson end up stealing a majority of the films best moments within a tale that will wash over you with its grimy undertones and seedy motivations.

An impressive directional follow up by Ford, Nocturnal Animals is a tightly wound thriller that’s well acted, brilliantly captured by Seamus McGarvey and moodily scored by Abel Korzeniowski and offers viewers a chance to escape into an often horrific world that would’ve benefited greatly by some extra showings of light and some characters we got to care for a little more, thus making this journey into darkness that much more memorable.

3 ½ unusual exhibition openings out of 5

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7 responses to “Film Review – Nocturnal Animals (2016)

    • I think for me if I found the ending stronger (it felt like it was building up to something amazing) I would be all over a re-watch but this one might be a one time only for me despite it being a really solid thriller.
      E

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