Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Nocturnal Animals: A Review


"Do you ever feel like your life has turned into something you never intended?"


So, my most anticipated film of the year so far has expectedly turned out to be one of my most favorite so far. And I urge you all to see it.

After the failure of 'The Girl on the Train' earlier this year, which many had branded as this year's 'Gone Girl', Tom Ford's sophomore film 'Nocturnal Animals' was given said titles even before it had been released. Does it live up to those expectations? In short, no. But, it doesn't really try to, or at least, not on purpose...

The story revolves around Susan (played with great conviction by Amy Adams), an art gallery owner living an idyllic, but ultimately empty life of high society with her husband Hutton, an almost non-existent Armie Hammer. One day Susan receives a manuscript from her first husband Edward, an magnetic Jake Gyllenhaal. The story in question is dedicated to her, and tells a tale of loss and revenge in Texas, Susan believes this story is meant to be a threat to herself and her family from Edward, whom she separated from under quite painful terms. As Susan contuse to read deeper into Edward's book, her mental state descends into a paranoia fueled down-spiral, forcing her to rethink certain life choices.

To quote critic Mark Kermode, this film truly is designed within an inch of its life. The costumes, makeup, art direction, cinematography, and editing are all purposeful and important, and bring to mind other filmmakers whos works function like well oiled machines, like Stanley Kubrick or David Fincher. This also factors into the films style, or in this case styles. It is a film of two halves, the reality of Susan, with its cold and clinical urban mansions, galleries, and offices, resembling works like 'The Shining' or 'The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo', and the dramatization of Edward's novel, set in the sun burnt valleys and decrepit hovels of West Texas backwaters, like 'No Country For Old Men' or 'There Will Be Blood'. I also need to mention Abel Korzeniowski's delicate yet emotionally arresting score, which at times resembles Bernard Hermann's works under Alfred Hitchcock.

The cast in this work is also superb. Amy Adams and Jake Gyllenhaal give possibly their best performances to date, especially Gyllenhaal as both Edward, and the protagonist of Edward's novel, Tony. Michael Shannon is intimidating, darkly funny, and oddly sympathetic is a rouge sheriff who helps Tony in his vengeance, while Aaron Taylor-Johnson is absolutely haunting as the redneck gang leader who causes Tony so much grief. Special mention also needs to go to Isla Fisher and Laura Linneys cameo appearances, both of whom are fantastic.

So without question, writer-director Tom Ford's newest one is quite a beast to be reckoned with. It's as beautiful as it is brutal, and as well crafted as it is intentionally flawed, and should be seen by anyone who enjoys a spell-binding work to contemplate, which I'm sure people will be doing for years to come.