Monday, January 16, 2017
Nocturnal Animals Review
Directed by Tom Ford, "Nocturnal Animals" is essentially a three-in-one-movie. It's a completely different genre and movie than "Inception," but "Inception" is the movie that I thought of while watching "Nocturnal Animals" due to it being a story within a story where the story within the story has consequences to what's happening in the present time, much like the dream within a dream idea in "Inception." Amy Adams plays a woman named Susan Morrow, the owner an art gallery. Despite being well-off financially, she is living a somewhat miserable life. Her current husband, played by Armie Hammer, isn't being super faithful and thus their marriage is deteriorating. Then one day she receives a manuscript for an upcoming book from her first husband Edward Sheffield, played by Jake Gyllenhaal. The book is dedicated to her and is called "Nocturnal Animals." So Susan sits down and starts reading this book, thus we are introduced to this story within the story. While we see this story play out, we also go back and forth from that to what is happening with Susan in the present day and we see flashbacks to the rise and fall of her and Edward's relationship.
That said, if I were to make a determination as to which of these story arcs was the most interesting, it's easily the story within the story. This is where the movie transitions from becoming a drama surrounding a woman and her failed love life as well as the consequences of that to being an intense crime thriller. This book that Edward has dedicated to Susan is rather intense story. Edward himself is the main character of the movie, but in the story his name is Tony Hastings, thus we have Jake Gyllenhaal in an impressive double role in the film. Tony is driving with his wife and daughter, played by Isla Fisher and Ellie Bambeer, down the highway at night when his car is forced off the side of the road by a car full of thugs who kidnap, rape and murder his wife and daughter. Thus Tony is left all alone in life. The story picks up a year or so later when the police finally find a lead in the case and detective by the name of Bobby Andes, who was assigned to the case, gets together with Tony to help pin down this group of thugs. Yeah, you can see why Susan is pretty unsettled with this novel that she's reading. What is the purpose of this novel? How is it going to turn out? Is Edward planning something crazy? How does everything tie into the present?
I'm obviously not going to answer those questions for you, but this interweaving story really had my undivided attention throughout the whole run time. Lots of praise has to go to this whole cast, which if you couldn't tell, is loaded with talent. The star of the movie is easily Jake Gyllenhaal, who one of these days has to stop being ignored by the Academy. He's one of the best actors in the business and has quite the diverse resume where he brings his "A" game in each role. As both Edward and Tony, he gives two very different performances that combine for one complex character who you both fear and feel bad for. Starring right alongside Gyllenhaal is Amy Adams, who I honestly think gives a better performance than she did in "Arrival." I think "Arrival" is the better movie, but I think "Nocturnal Animals" is the more complex, emotional performance that impressed me more. But I suppose I'm in the minority in that because her "Arrival" performance is the one getting her all the attention and should get her her sixth Oscar nomination. I suppose I can't complain about that. One of these days I hope she gets an actual win at the Oscars as she's 0 for 5 so far with her nominations.
As far as negatives for this movie, while I did think the present storyline with Amy Adams in the present was an important factor to the movie, I'm a part of the group of people who were disappointed in the resolution of that story arc. Going back to the "Inception" comparison, the movie gives us an ending similar to "Inception." In this case, though, I was hoping for a bit more. You have to sit there and draw your own conclusions and I was somewhat unsatisfied with this. I was expecting something completely different with the ending and I would've rather had my ending than the movie's ending. But that's all I'll say about that. I also was appalled by the opening credits. I've read Tom Ford's explanation about it, but in my opinion he could've done something a bit different and still sent the same message. It was completely unnecessary to the plot of the film in my opinion. I won't say what happens to avoid putting bad images in your head if you haven't seen it, but if you have seen it, I will just add that it had nothing to do with the shape and size of the individuals. But outside that opening scene and the final resolution, I think this is a solid film that's definitely worth seeing if you enjoy crime thrillers and complex stories that are beautifully told. I'll give "Nocturnal Animals" a 9/10.