This is where I usually say, thriller starring someone or other, but Nocturnal Animals is a different beast in every aspect, so I don’t know how to caption this film in one easy line. Lets just go through the review and see if it makes sense.
Amy Adams stars as a Texas raised woman who strikes it big in the modern art world, and whose husband works in some form of finance, the marriage is shaky and they are like ships passing one another in the night. Late one night a manuscript is dropped off at their lavish house, and during some alone time, Adams reads the book. This book, called Nocturnal Animals, is written by her Ex Husband, and is a violent tale that strikes many a cord with their former relationship and yet has nothing to do with it at all. We have the modern story of Adams who is realising that her marriage and life is not what she wants at all. Then there is the flashbacks to the beginning, middle, and end of her relationship with the former husband. All of this is interwoven with the story in the book. The story in the book could have been its own movie by rights.
This film has one of the most unsettling opening scenes that I’ve ever seen in a film. It creates that feeling of not knowing where you are going in this adventure of cinematic joy, just throws you off-balance, which is such a wonderful feeling to get these days. Too often in the cinema now we know the start of a film and then how to write it from there, which for me, I don’t know about you, this is just getting to be soul destroying. I’ve little of that left.
After the film starts you see a magnificent cast, and a few are so underused that’s why I took one point off, working in one of the more gladly challenging films of the year. Tom Ford Directs and Writes the screenplay based on the book Tony and Susan, and does so in a way that mixes the best parts of the oddity of reality with the subjective thoughts on where the story goes. We get to see a clear path through the film, you think you know where it’s going, and then something amazingly jarring occurs that takes us down a very gritty dirt path that changes our perception all together.
As many of you know I love Amy Adams, but I have to stay back 500 feet, for some unknown reason. Here we see a not often observed darker side of her and she carries it well. With Jake Gyllenhaal, I’m going to refer to him as Jake from now on as I’ve had to look up the spelling too many times over the last week, playing two roles. Normally I can leave Jake to one side, but as with Nightcrawler from last year, this is one of those times that show hope for the young man. The one who steals the show though, as he most often does, is Mr. Michael Shannon playing the fictional Police detective. There are many actors who say ‘Fuck Off!’ in a film that just nails the most simple put down, but for my money, which I have little of, no one does it like Mr. Shannon.
Here is the final low down on Nocturnal Animals. Why should you trust Uncle Gar? Well Nocturnal Animals does a few rare things, things that we should see more of in the cinema. Firstly it makes you use your mind and think during the film, it’s all very well watching some tight t-shirted man or low-cut dressed woman doing a mindless comedy or action adventure, I I do love me some mindless crap from time to time. But I want to think when I go see a film, I want to be kept guessing until the last frame, when it fades to darkness and the credit roles I want to make up my own mind as to what happens. The second rare thing is that this film trusts that you have more than one brain cell to rub together and use it. It doesn’t talk down to you. The lush photography and set dressing of reality and the harsh realm of the fiction world clash with magnificent ease. This is one film that you will love or you will hate, there will be no middle ground, but I encourage you all to see it and challenge your brain to a work out.
Director: Tom Ford
Writers: Tom Ford (screenplay), Austin Wright (based on the novel “Tony and Susan” by)
Stars: Amy Adams, Jake Gyllenhaal, Michael Shannon