Nocturnal Animals: Film Review

NOCTURNAL ANIMALS

Trying to write about this film is like trying to punch through a transparent wall.  I can see through to the other side but I just can’t break down the glass.  This film moved me.  I felt the post credits feel, the impact of it.  Tom Ford has created a narrative and thematic joy with ‘Nocturnal Animals, and I enjoyed very step of it.

The basic narrative splits into three parts, each being lead by art gallery owner ‘Susan Morrow’ (Amy Adams). Her actual life, a shallow and frustrating experience for her, her past life, full of hope but confusion, and the world inside her ex-husband’s (Jake Gyllenhaal) novel, a dark and unreal vision.  This allows the creation of different worlds, and this is done with precision by Ford.  Susan’s present world is glossy and clean, where her past life feels warmer.  The world weaved by Gyllenhaal’s character ‘Edward Sheffield’ is a visceral one, of harsh realities, yet full of moments that don’t seem to really exist. Ford here begins to blend the plot together and the lines between the stories are blurred. And with help from cinematographer Seamus McGarvey, each scene is beautifully crafted, with the lighting being the standout, with each tone seamlessly dripping with art.

Art is what the film is gleefully bloated with, though it never felt dull to me.  The entrance of Aaron-Taylor Johnson’s Ray is superb and the following ten minutes is a tense ebb and flow of fear.  His performance is a twisted charasmatic one and I was mesmerised by him in his opening scenes.  This is all in Edward’s book world, where Michael Shannon’s Bobby Andes is also present as the gruelling sheriff.  He is of course excellent in this role, and every scene he dominates.  The thriller style to this part of the narrative is quickly paced and jumpy, for great effect, as you feel the strange nature of it.  It’s made better by Susan’s interludes as she reads it, conflicting her thoughts of her past.  And Ford never shy’s away from her, frequently keeping the camera in close up to Adams, who does a wonderful job of pulling this story together with effectively just her eyes.

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There could be missteps or unfinished business throughout the film, however everything feels purposeful.  The attention to detail and depth is clearly evident, which is why I enjoyed the 117 minutes so much.  I was pulled along by this tale of revenge thanks to a sense of foreboding or a eagerness for the film to take me somewhere.  Ford gives you little but you feel like there is so much more there.  I’m slightly apprehensive to watch it again, because the shine might have rubbed off, but I’m hoping to find more in this film. Find more of the emptiness and guilt in Susan and the sadness in Edward.  By the end I was left with more questions, more intrigue, as I had completely been dazzled by Ford and the way he had shown me these characters, before brutally taking them away.

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