review by Bobby Blakey
There are films that come along that never offer up all the much to what you are in for with the trailers and often times that makes the film all the better. When I saw the trailer for Nocturnal Animals I was never fully interested in what they were bringing forward, but loved the cast including Amy Adams, Jake Gyllenhaal, Michael Shannon, Aaron Taylor-Johnson, Isla Fisher, Armie Hammer, Laura Linney, and Michael Sheen all lead by director Tom Ford. Could this film offer that something special that surprises audiences or is it a story that’s not worth hearing about?
Nocturnal Animals follows a woman named Susan who receives a book manuscript from her ex-husband, a man whom she left 20 years earlier, asking for her opinion. The manuscript, called "Nocturnal Animals," revolves around a man whose family vacation turns violent and deadly. As she reads through violent tale, she finds herself recalling her first marriage and confronting some dark truths about herself. I had a very different perception of what I was walking into with this film than what I actually got. From the bizarre opening of the film you know right away that this is going to be something out there and it delivers in the best possible way. There is so much going on here that it could have easily become a cluttered mess, but it showcases the skill that director Tom Ford clearly has in telling a story. The cast is all excellent with Adams bringing a mature, but tortured woman dealing with betrayal and regret all while being forced to relive her own demons throughout the story. Gyllenhaal has probably the hardest job taking on two completely roles here and succeeding with both. The always excellent Michael Shannon is easily the most interesting of them all to watch with his lawman showcasing pain and determination to solve the case in his own way.
This is one of those films with a story within a story, but if you really focus on what they are trying to say, you can see the direct connection to what is happening in the book and the life events that they dealt with. I loved this movie, but will say it does require some focus and willingness to use some intelligence to keep up with it. You cannot go into this movie trying to figure it out or just mindlessly watch it, you have to fully invest to really get the impact it is offering. While the tale of revenge will likely be the selling point for some, the way it all overlaps each other is what makes this compelling aspect work. There is so much more here than you might guess if you just allow yourself to be immersed in the world this film has created.
This is one of those rare films that is sure to stick with you on some level. The opening of the film alone will burn some images into your mind that you will likely not want there, but they are a great metaphor for the unexpected nature of this film. Do yourself a favor and check this film out as soon as possible.