Film Review – Nocturnal Animals

12.24.2016

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Well that was one opening scene I certainly will never forget.

What an early Christmas gift this was!  Nocturnal Animals is a film that I have been looking forward to seeing after hearing the buzz of critics.  This is my 2nd year of participating in going to the theater and viewing these Oscar-bait films, cleansing my pallet of summer blockbusers and tent pole films.  I am a fan of anything Jake Gyllenhaal is in, from Donnie Darko to Prisoners to Nightcrawler.  I have to admit I haven’t seen a whole lot of Amy Adams films but anything I have seen her in has been good, most recently in Arrival which also just came out.  As for the director, Tom Ford’s only other film is one I have not seen (A Single Man) so I had no idea what to expect…and I can’t wait for what he does next.

Nocturnal Animals is a film that centers around Adams character Susan Morrow.  Morrow is an art gallery owner living a privileged life, but seems to be unhappy.  One day, she receives a a package from her ex-husband Edward Sheffield, played by Gyllenhaal, which contains a letter and a book called, wait for it, Nocturnal Animals that he dedicates to her.  The film acts out the actions of what Morrow is reading int he book and Gyllenhaal also plays the lead character in the book, Tony Hastings.  What the movie does great is bounce around from the book’s story back to Adams in the present, as well as a third element which I won’t spoil for you.  These three events all eventually, sort of, tie into each other with great acting and thrills.  This is some of Gyllenhaal’s best work and Adams was very good as well.

nocturnal-animals-aaron-taylor-johnsonIn the book’s story, there are a couple characters worth noting.  The above pictured Ray Marcus, played by Aaron Taylor-Johnson (Quicksilver in the MCU), was a terrible person which he played great.  There are sometimes characters that I watch who are despicable people but have dialog that make you laugh even though they are despicable people and you shouldn’t root for them (most recently for me is Negan on AMC’s The Walking Dead). Ray Marcus is not one of those characters.  Taylor-Johnson plays this character as he needed to be played and is quite fearful as he terrorizes Hastings in the book’s story. There is also the police officer Bobby Andes in the book, played by Michael Shannon, who is great.  Without saying how he gets involved, Shannon plays Andes as a no nonsense cop that doesn’t give a damn.

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I really enjoyed this movie…up until the end.  The ending does make sense for the story but I just felt like it was flat.  This film reminded me a lot of David Lynch’s Mulholland Drive.  There are twists and turns that pay off and you’re invested for the ride but the ending occurred, I was left a little let down.  Nonetheless, this is a definite Oscar contender, Jake Gyllenhaal should be nominated for Best Actor and Michael Shannon for Best Supporting Actor.

Rating: 8/10

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