Thursday, December 15, 2016

The dark side of Nocturnal Animals

If you like film as art then you should take a chance on Nocturnal Animals but I should warn you that the movie itself is dark (literately and figuratively), disturbing and extremely tense. When the 1 hour and 56 minutes were over I felt like I could finally take a breath again.

As the opening credits roll the first camera shot focuses on a living piece of art. The indie movie then follows a lonely (in marriage and career) woman named Susan played by the amazing Amy Adams as she receives and reads a manuscript for a novel written by her ex-husband. That is when things get weird.

The superb Jake Gyllenhaal plays two roles, as Susan’s ex Edward (in flashbacks) and the main character in his manuscript, Tony Hastings. I know it sounds confusing and at times it is. I would go as far to say Nocturnal Animals is really 3 stories in 1 and have to admit that if you took away Amy Adam’s character the story would not change too much. After all the story within the story that she is reading is more than half of the film. That being said the viewer is seeing Edward’s words come alive through Susan’s eyes which makes for a crazy and very impactful brain overload. The acting by Adams and Gyllenhaal give the film its emotion and heart as I felt what they felt throughout the aspects of the stories being told. 

All filmmakers are artists but director Tom Ford (A Single Man) took his paintbrush and created something any artist (starving or not) should be proud of. The look of Texas by director of photography Seamus McGarvey by day and by night was beautiful and scary. I know I usually don’t write about or pay much attention to the so called lesser award show categories but on that point the Production Design by Shane Valentino, Set Decoration by Meg Everist, Art Direction by Christopher Brown and Editor Joan Sobel made the film even more fascinating to look at and allowed this viewer to throw herself into the lives of those on the big screen.

The movie is written by Ford and is based on a book by Austin Wright. It also stars Michael Shannon, Isla Fisher, Armie Hammer and Michael Sheen.

If any of what I wrote makes you say “Sounds like my type of film” then you really should check out Nocturnal Animals.