Nocturnal Animals Review

Director: Tom Ford

Starring: Amy Adams, Jake Gyllenhaal, Michael Shannon, Aaron Taylor-Johnson, Isla Fisher

The Overview

An art gallery owner is haunted by her ex-husband’s novel, a violent thriller she interprets as a veiled threat and a symbolic revenge tale. (Source: IMDb

The Good

With his background in fashion, and now proving to be wholly successful in his venture into directing, Tom Ford has a masterful deftness for storytelling, and a crisp, stylish visual flair which lends itself to this interesting and visually stunning narrative. 

Going into Nocturnal Animals as blind as possible will ultimately go in your favour, although the provocative opening credits might make you wonder just what you’re letting yourself in for! Stick with it, I promise you it’s worthwhile. The design and cinematography is absolutely immaculate, but whilst I feared it would be style over substance I shouldn’t have worried as the thematic elements to this film remain just as strong as the visuals throughout. 

The shot transitions and compositions are sumptuous and the visual cues littered throughout drop not so subtle hints about the overriding theme of revenge; no really it’s literally painted on the wall at one point! I loved the interweaving narrative, the story within the story, and the cuts between these never felt jarring thanks to Ford’s masterful touch. It switches from crisp, stylish, arty drama to a Western-style thriller with the greatest of ease. 

The performances are all exceptional and no one puts a foot wrong. Jake Gyllenhaal is absolutely breathtaking, technically playing two roles, and I wouldn’t be at all surprised if he received some recognition awards wise. Amy Adams plays a dark, varied and layered character and it’s really interesting to see her play a character this complex and different to what she normally plays. I’ll watch Michael Shannon in anything and I loved him in this film! He plays a stoic, law enforcement role with a slight edge oh so well, and his scenes with Jake Gyllenhaal were absolute gold. 

The score in this film was absolutely glorious, and I’d put it in strong contention for my favourite score of the year. It’s soaring and majestic, sweeping and grandiose, pitched somewhere between a classic romance and an old fashioned espionage score, and it’s absolutely one I would listen to outside of the film. It perfectly suits the contrast between art and violence that runs as a theme throughout and it’s just wonderful. 

The Bad

There wasn’t anything in particular that I didn’t like about this film, but I felt it lacked a bit of punch when it was really needed and I can imagine some audiences leaving with a feeling of “oh ok is that it?” Personally I still enjoyed what it had to offer but there did just feel like a very small something missing towards the end. 

However I do believe it’s a film to go away and unpack, and talk about in great detail, and the more I think about it, the less this bothers me! 

The Verdict

I saw this movie and you should too. Tom Ford has created something really quite special here and it absolutely feels like the sort of film which will benefit from repeated watches. The contrast between the beautiful, crisp, stylishness and the grimy, dirty, grotesqueness is really quite wonderful and the visual flair keeps it interesting and unique throughout. It’s dark, sexy, intriguing, and irrevocably cool; an absolute must see! 

Agree with everything I’ve said, or am I a totally misguided idiot who has got it all wrong? Let me know in the comments below! 

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