Friday, July 14, 2017

NOCTURNAL ANIMALS (2016)



Written & Directed By: Tom Ford 
Based on the Novel By: Austin Wright 
Cinematography By: Seamus McGarvey 
Editor: Joan Sobel 


Cast: Amy Adams, Jake Gylenhaal, Michael Shannon, Armie Hammer, Aaron Taylor-Johnson, Laura Linney, Isla Fisher, Karl Glusman, Michael Sheen, Andrea Riseborough, Jena Malone 

 A "story inside a story," in which the first part 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 second element follows the actual manuscript, called "Nocturnal Animals," which revolves around a man whose family vacation turns violent and deadly. It also continues to follow the story of Susan, who finds herself recalling her first marriage and confronting some dark truths about herself.

When it comes to this film there are many reasons to believe it will be better than what it is, it's the sophomore film of fashion designer Tom Ford after the excellent A SINGLE MAN. Plus with all the praise it has been getting you expect something better and more engrossing. What you get feels very pretentious and quite being arty for art's sake. As it doesn't seem to say anything and seems more designed more than anything else.

It seems to a degree like it want's to be a bunch of things but never is quite successful st anything. You can see the melodramatic angle it strives for like old Douglas Sirk films. It also tries to be a revenge drama. As well as a kind of meta drama. As well as a slight satire on the art world. You see it succeed at showcasing it all as hey come together, bit again seem styled more than natural and coming together. It has a satisfying revenge story and sells the pain of not doing more and feeling like a coward by Seeking revenge as well as the perfect accomplice. He looks to redeem himself and receive his emotional pain.

The other plot thread of Amy Adams reading this novel. While she happens to be wearing Tom Ford glasses match branding yourself and a good tie in.

The film looks great visually. Though the Majority of the film is spent on this attack and abduction story that ends in revenge. That plays as typical and not necessarily particularly exciting. Except that it is revealed to have hidden depths and meaning as we flashback to the writer played by Jake Gyleenhaal and Amy Adams relationship and The parallels and emotional allegory that is put forth. The cast does what it can with the material with Amy Adams coming off more as an ice queen seeking to melt, but maintained in a freezer constantly.

Michael Shannon does good work but his role seems one of convenience for the film as he plays a classic Marlboro man type. Whose character always comes across as what is needed in the current situation. They try to give him more aspects that make him seem more human. Though he always comes through more as a concept.

Jake Gylenhaal playing two roles of a sort has the most screen time and is tested more as an actor then anyone else. He flies through the movie as his character here seem constantly tortured but full of hope and never hateful or cold. He is the warmth to Amy Adams cold. Though the storyline where we find out what happened during their marriage and how she might have earned the life she leads now The film is vivid in design with everything seeming to be modern art designed. That leaves the surroundings minimal, cold and alienating. Not to mention lonely whole.

Looking sumptuous and sharp. So that everything looks fine on the outside, but people are made to feel warm and comfortable. So that clues you into Amy Adams characters life and as she reads the book. We see her reactions as it either horrified her or how she might see the next chapter as unleashing a memory of their shared path.

We constantly see the main characters in the shower. Seeking to be clean and wash away pain or their emotions but it can only do that for the surface it can't take away the depth of your pain and sorrow. So we see the main characters try to get over what they feel but still are stuck in their despair no matter what.

As well as in the story the wife looks similar to her and their child, it means something maybe how once she cheated in real life it was like she had been taken from him and dead to him and he sought revenge but still ended with his heart being broken and towards the end when he doesn't show up that is his act of revenge as he doesn't really know the guy she ended up marrying and his success as a writer and finally finishing proving to her his talent and standing her up to show she is dead to him at that point a peace that will never come.

Though then again maybe she is Michael Shannon's character, by his side and helping him until he has to face his problems and fears face to face then disappears leaving him alone and almost for dead. Especially once he completes his task and is left broken and seeking his way back. The novel is not only showing her the pain he felt when they divorced. It also taps into her loneliness and makes her feel regret.

Which seems to be what the film is all about. Looking back to your regrets and realizing there is nothing to be done about it as when trying to make amends you are left in the bed you made to sleep in.

Transfers they through his novel with a pulp-ish revenge story that should keep and audience entertained while Revealing slowly deep meaning and unraveling pain. With characters you would expect yet no real tweaks. So that this feels more like a film to talk about and theorize rather then watch and most judge what is presented. as the film seems to want to make matters up in the details.

It's like an elegantly wrapped present. That you think is going to be worthwhile and expensive and once you open the package it is more a knick knack to put on a shelf. That has little meaning to you but is crafted well and fine. Though the reason for the wrapping is that the gift is so fragile and can easily be broken apart. So It's something to look at but can she interact or use.

Tom Ford is an exceptional director. Though this film seems more like an experiment more than something impassioned or a story that needed to be told and brought to the screen. This film doesn't feel as confident as his first film.


Grade: C

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