Nocturnal Animals: Movie Review

Tom Ford's second film Nocturnal Animals based on the novel by Austin Wright, is simply one of, if not, the best film I have seen this year and most certaintly one of the finest movies of the decade. It's a multi-layered tale of vengeance, remorse, regret, and unspeakable action leading to dark, demeaning consequences that further comments of the ambiguity and moral facade of the wealthy and relationships dissolve into bad decisions that ultimately ends in regret. 




The Story:

In the film, the protagonist Susan, played spectacularly by Amy Adams, receives a manuscript entitled Nocturnal Animals, written by her ex-husband Edward who she divorced years earlier. He dedicates the novel to her and she finds the story to be greatly written but filled with violence, revenge, and grief, all feelings she knows is metaphorical of their past broken relationship. It's truly the story we see in the manuscript as imagined by Susan's reading that is the jaw-dropping and intense and exquisitely crafted by Tom Ford and Company. In the story Susan reads, the protagonist Tony suffers a horrific loss and goes on a search for justice, aided by a detective in the process. This "fictitious" part of the film is spectacular. The dialogue is terrific, scenes of tension are meticulously crafted, and it grabs my attention at every turn. 


Jake Gyllenhaal as Tony Hastings: 

Gyllenhaal's as the novel's protagonist Tony is a reflection of his real-life counterpart Edward. But it's as Tony that we see Gyllenhall give his best performance to date. He is passionate, weak, strong-willed, fearful, resentful and everything other arc you could possibly imagine. The emotionality of his performance as layered in his grief and pain feels so natural that we don't just see a character anymore. It's somebody we as an audience can identify with. And it's one hell of a performance.


Michael Shannon as Detective Bobby Andes: 

As much as I loved Gyllenhaal's performance, Shannon completely steals the show in every scene he's in. Shannon is a gift of an actor to have for any director, and he once again shows us why he's one of hollywood's best. He plays Andes with a cool, slick demeanor, but at the same time, he wants justice done for Tony and its his eventual turn into going against the books to see justice done where the performance of Shannon truly sneaks in as one of the year's best. His character resembles a man who doesn't like to lose, and all his years of collecting other people's pain and suffering has led him over the edge. It's a wonderfully written character and Shannon should be nominated, ifnot, win the oscar for his performance. 


The Cinematography: 

Tom Ford knows a lot about style and fashion based on merits as a fashion designer. So when you have that credibility and knowledge and apply it to a film's look, there's gonna be great results. Each scene is filled with terrfic lighting and color pallettes to offset the mood of the film, while all the exquisite things are smartly brushed off as background, symbolizing how the materialism and look of things represent each character's personality. 


The Themes:

The strength of Nocturnal Animals is its themes of vengeance and grief. Its mentioned through dialogue and situations many times throughout the film but what's really resonating is how the feeling sticks with you all the way through and even after viewing the film. 


Tom Ford has truly created a dark, submersive masterpiece and I can't wait to see this movie again.


Grade: A+