Monday, November 21, 2016


Art gallery owner Susan Morrow (Amy Adams) is having a really tough time with life, she feels unhappy, doesn't think work is satisfying her and is suspicious of her husband. When her ex-husband (Jake Gyllenhall) sends her a draft of his novel, all of the hardships of Susan's life seem to blend in with the violent novel and real life and fiction start to mysteriously intricate into one another.

Having unfortunately not seen stylist-turned-director Tom Ford's first feature A Single Man, I did not know what to expect from this film. Moreover, I had hardly read anything about it, so my condition going in was that of a complete stranger to the material, and it was glorious. I did so because the experience I was graced with surprised me at every turn. Nocturnal Animals is a masterful thriller with a unique spin that manages to bring to the screen a concept that could have easily been a disaster.

Tom Ford gives proof of himself as a masterful storyteller and in particular the visual storytelling going on in this film is brilliant. It is incredibly subtle, not hitting you over the head with its significance, it just stays in the background until the end when you realize what just happened and immediately go back with your head to the rest of the film and realize what it was doing to you subconsciously. It leaves you with images stuck in your mind and there is hardly a higher compliment for a film to have.

Of course a lot of this is due to the brilliant work of Seamus McGarvey, a cinematographer that has been overlooked a little too much in my opinion, having always been one of my favorites. His photography always leaves me aghast. He manages to paint frames of immense beauty and uses colors to great effect int building the ambiance of the story. He shoots night time sequences with a staggering detail and beautiful blacks, basically his photography just has a real weight to it and a grit that helps incredibly in making the picture hit the audience as it should.

Still, the brilliance in the photography doesn't end there. We've talked about the quality of the image, but the quality of how the film is shot is even higher. Ford doesn't resort to ambitious camera moves or showy sequences, the picture is shot with very few setups for each scene, the shots are simple, but they are used to incredible effect. The frame is filled with significance and Ford holds on it to capture the audience into this world, and when it is time to edit he always finds a creative solution that builds the tension throughout the whole picture. This film is a good reminder of how magical editing can be as the tools used are basic, but the moments in which they are used are intelligent.

Still all of this wouldn't be possible if it weren't for the incredibly juicy characters this film has and how it decides to work with them. The intrigue is genius and it is built so that you are never sure of what is exactly going on, but you always have enough information so you don't get lost in it, it strikes that perfect balance and because of that it always keeps you guessing in suspense. The way in which the fictional novel is intertwined to real life and flashbacks is highly original and something that I have never had the pleasure to experience before.

The cast is solid across the board, of course we are speaking of three of the best actors of their generation and each one of them manages to fit his place in the story perfectly without being showy went not required. Amy Adams is cast perfectly in this role and manages to fill her face with the mystery that the film is exploring, giving the audience a true insight into her experience reading the novel. Yet, it's Shannon that sticks out the most here, playing to the stereotype of his character perfectly and chewing the scene at every occasion, ending on a beautiful note.

Nocturnal Animals is a rich movie, it opens itself to many questions and even if it might not give the emotional pay off you wish you had, its mesmerizing images will be stuck in your head for days to come, with your thoughts wondering on every little detail to figure out what went down.

James's Score: 8/10

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