“Nocturnal Animals” stars Amy Adams, Jake Gyllenhaal, Michael Shannon, Aaron Taylor-Johnson, Isla Fisher, Armie Hammer, Laura Linney, and Michael Sheen. Released on November 18, 2016, the film is about an art gallery owner who becomes consumed by her ex-husband’s disturbing novel.
The film is directed by Tom Ford, who also directed A Single Man, and it is based on the 1993 novel Tony and Susan by Austin Wright. Looks like this weekend is going to be filled with Critics‘ Choice Awards fever. This film is nominated for three Critics‘ Choice Awards, including Best Adapted Screenplay and Best Cinematography. Seeing that it is playing at my local cinema, I made sure that I see this film before tomorrow night’s event. It’s possible that I might see another CCA nominee tomorrow depending on the weather and my schedule, but right now, I’m focusing on this.
The best way I could describe this interesting film is that it’s a movie-within-a-movie. Two engaging stories for the price of one ticket. One of them revolves around Susan Morrow (played by the dazzling Amy Adams) as she recalls her troubled marriage to Edward (played by Jake Gyllenhaal) while reading his novel that is dedicated to her. The other is within the novel, which revolves around a motorist (also played by Gyllenhaal) who faces off against some local troublemakers, led by the insane Aaron Taylor-Johnson, who managed to kill his wife and daughter. These two stories were equally well-told without overshadowing each other, along with serving a purpose as to why the “novel” story needs to be told. The film is downright disturbing when it needs to be, and while it doesn’t reach the same level as Denis Villeneuve’s “Prisoners”, director Tom Ford definitely knows how to get into my skin in a good way. The “novel” story does have a couple of “revenge tale” cliches, but its execution and the performances from the cast managed to captivate me just like how Susan is captivated by Edward’s novel. Speaking of performances, Amy Adams continues to shine during this year’s Oscar season as she delivered another remarkable performance as Susan, and Gyllenhaal was very talented as Edward from the “Real World” story and as Tom Hastings from the “novel” story. Michael Shannon, who is nominated for Best Supporting Actor at the CCA, may provide some tough competition because he delivered an eye-catching performance as a deputy who helps Tom search for the gang who killed his family. There’s just something about his portrayal that made me feel uneasy in a mesmerizing kind of way. Another thing that I should give it credit for is the cinematography. This film has some very impressive shots that matches its dark tone perfectly, although my least favorite shot was during the opening credits. You’ll see what I mean when you see it for yourself. There were a couple of scenes that slowed the film down for a couple of seconds, but other than that, the pacing was quite steady.
Overall, it might not make a huge splash during awards season, but “Nocturnal Animals” is a nicely-crafted, yet disturbing, tale about revenge and redemption. Filled with impressive performances from the cast, stunning cinematography, and Tom Ford’s ability to blend two engaging narratives into one film, this latest Critics‘ Choice Award contender should be seen by those who want a good psychological thriller and those who are familiar with Ford’s last film, A Single Man. Compared to the other contenders of the CCA that I loved like Moonlight and Arrival, this one fell just below these two films, in my opinion, but other than that, I was impressed with it. A little creeped out, but impressed, nonetheless.