Review: “Nocturnal Animals” Is A Brutal and Captivating Film

 
Direction
9.0


 
Acting
10


 
Plot
9.0


 
Execution
9.0


 
Total Score
9.3


User Rating
4 total ratings

 


0
Posted December 23, 2016 by

 
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“Nocturnal Animals” boasts dueling storylines that both could have served as their own film but come together to tell one large-scoped story that proves sometimes life imitates art and art can sometimes hit too close to home. Susan Morrow (Amy Adams) is married to Hutton (Armie Hammer), has a successful art career, a beautiful home, friends that throw lavish parties, and the life she always said she never wanted but was clearly destined for. While in college, she was married for a brief time to Edward Sheffield (Jake Gyllenhaal); a writer and down-to-earth guy that was the polar opposite of the upper-class lifestyle her family had given to her and demanded she stay apart of. While her marriage is crumbling slowly in front of her eyes, Susan receives a manuscript for Edward’s upcoming novel — the one she never thought he’d actually get around to writing — and she begins to see the parallels between his fictional story and their real life experiences. Emotions begin to rise as Edward’s novel is a violent and unabashed metaphor for how he saw their relationship and their lives together.

“Nocturnal Animals” isn’t that movie you’re going to want to watch if you’re in the mood for something light, and while it’s a punch-in-the-mouth drama, it’s also brilliantly written, directed and acted and impossible to not be entertained by. Normally movies like this are one-and-dones, meaning I’m glad I watched it but I don’t see myself ever being in the mood for it again, but there’s something different about “Nocturnal Animals”. Maybe it’s the subtle comedic moments I wasn’t expecting, or just how authentic everything felt and how interesting the characters were. Either way, despite how heavy the narrative is, I would gladly watch this movie again.

While the Susan Morrow story (the one that takes place in reality) is good, I found myself more interested by the story from Edward’s novel. Susan’s story is one of a life hitting a dead end and needing a drastic change, while Edward’s novel is a story of a man’s life shattering in front of him and his need for revenge on the men that took his happiness away from him. Despite Susan’s story being less interesting on the surface, however, director Tom Ford hides metaphors within the novel interpretation that makes even the tedious things about Susan’s life hold much more weight. Instead of letting one narrative completely get buried by the other, Ford makes sure that they compliment each other and add an emotional or suspenseful layer that may not have existed without both stories playing out side-by-side.

Like I mentioned earlier, the acting in this film is beyond good, and that should be a no-brainer when you look at the cast: Amy Adams, Jake Gyllenhaal, Armie Hammier, Isla Fisher, Michael Shannon, Laura Linney, Michael Sheen, and Jena Malone. Out of everyone though, it’s the performance from Aaron Taylor-Johnson as the main antagonist Ray that impressed me the most. There is absolutely nothing to like about this character that harasses an innocent family and threatens to end the life they’ve built, but Taylor-Johnson transforms Ray into so much more than just a villain. As much as I hated the character, I was also mesmerized by him. That’s what makes the best cinema psychos: how you can see yourself being charmed by them despite the horrific things you’ve already seen them do. Surrounded by actors of this caliber, Taylor-Johnson makes sure his performance stands out above the rest and it’s one I won’t soon forget.

“Nocturnal Animals” should be required viewing and is firmly entrenched on my list of top movies of 2016.


DavidRyanM

 


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