Saturday, April 22, 2017

Nocturnal Animals Movie Review

Nocturnal Animals (2016)
Buy Nocturnal Animals on Amazon Video // Buy the Book Tony and Susan
Written by: Tom Ford (screenplay), Austin Wright (novel)
Directed by: Tom Ford
Starring: Amy Adams, Jake Gyllenhaal, Michael Shannon, Aaron Taylor-Johnson, Isla Fisher, Armie Hammer, Laura Linney, Michael Sheen
Rated: R

My rating is simple, Watch It, It Depends, Skip it. Read my previous movie reviews!

A wealthy art gallery owner is haunted by her ex-husband's novel, a violent thriller she interprets as a symbolic revenge tale.

This has one of most surprising and just craziest openings I've ever seen in a movie. While you can argue it ties into the themes of the movie, it's also Ford thumbing his nose at the audience. It's a very well directed movie that revels in intense moments.
The movie is a wild ride of wondering what's real and what is emotional projection with a story in a story. The entire movie is seen from one character's  point of view. The performances are great and the ending is underwhelming but very good.
Watch it.

There is no way to prepare for the opening of this movie. What is this?

Amy Adam's character Susan gets a book written by her ex-husband Edward. My first questions were how much of this book is real and how much is it a projection. Does this book follow real life? Amy Adam's avatar in the book is played by Isla Fisher, they're often confused for each other. Is Adams projecting he ideal image? Jake Gyllenhaal plays her ex-husband and the husband in the book, Tony. The car is the same, so there are definitely connections.
The transitions between the worlds are framed similarly, adding to the confusion of what's real.

The movie flips back and forth between the action in the book and Amy Adam's reading it. Most of her thoughts are conveyed through actions, not words. The family in the book has a terrifying encounter one night on a road trip with a group of young men led by Aaron Taylor-Johnston's character. Taylor-Johnston does a great job. He's unnerving in every scene, and Gyllenhaal picks another great role in a strange movie.

You get why Gyllenhaal's character didn't fight back as he was outnumbered, but the cops question him about it, wondering if there was no gun why he complied. He's a meek character, but he's also facing a difficult situation and is outnumbered. He does what he thinks will save himself and his family. It's not like he has a choice as the attackers take his wife and daughter away. This movie is full of long moments of unease.

This movie creates its own commentary. The book is Edward's therapy. It's something he may have wanted to happen to his wife after she divorced him, but it's also representative of the pain and loss he felt after she left, taking their daughter. Edward plays a huge part in the movie, but there's a certain disconnect since we don't see a lot of him. The memories of him are seen through Susan's eyes. Are they accurate? Tony is a work of fiction, manifested by Susan's imagination.
After she reads the book she wants to meet with Edward. I wondered if he would want to. He dedicated a book to her where a man's wife and daughter are kidnapped. While they are avenged, though not without consequence, we assume Edward doesn't care much for his former wife..

The ending is understated, but amazing in its simpleness. The direction is top notch, achieving a terrifying mood. The question the first scene generates, is the same question Susan is left with after she reads the book. Is this entertainment?

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