'Nocturnal Animals' - Joe's Take
Updated: Oct 8, 2020
2016 I 15+ I 116 Mins I Dir: Tom Ford
Susan receives a manuscript of her ex-husband Edward's new novel and finds it very compelling. However, the story forces her to confront several disturbing truths about their marital life.
I think the most impressive thing Ford does here is completely deliver a gripping thriller that works on its own through the "story within the story"whilst allowing the viewer to bring in as much detail as they want/can find from the other storylines that take part in the past and present of the protagonist.
It's a film I'm itching to watch again as I found myself theorising throughout and discussing for some time after with those I watched it with. I was worried that it would amount to nothing by the end and feel pretentious but I certainly felt that the ending was a fitting reflection on what the film was trying to achieve. Nocturnal Animals is an exercise in the interpretation of art and what we ourselves bring to the table when consuming it and creating it. Suitably so, the film provides us with things we need to unpack and theorise but never in a way that is so overly complicated that it loses us from the story and it's characters.
The performances are as amazing as can be expected from the cast with a few stand outs. Michael Shannon's performance as a broken down, chain smoking detective serves as a guardian angel to support a man who has given up on everything but finding the people responsible for his families' disappearance. Aaron Taylor Johnson is a surprise standout in an unpredictable and menacing performance (particularly in one scene as he and his friends toy with a family he has forced off of the road).
I can't leave this review without mentioning the opening credits which Ford himself has jokingly mentioned being sick of explaining to people. For me personally, I felt that whilst it did make sense to the film and Amy Adams' character it was an over stylized misstep in a film that otherwise felt fairly grounded.
An impressively gripping thriller that begs for the detail in it's multiple storylines to be unpacked. I'll be paying close attention to what Ford is up to next.
STARRING: Amy Adams, Jake Gyllenhaal, Michael Shannon, Aaron Taylor Johnson, Isla Fischer, Armie Hammer
BEST QUOTE: "Do you ever feel like your life has turned into something you never intended"
IF YOU LIKED: No Country For Old Men, Drive, Wind River, Fargo