RELEASED: 4th November 2016
DIRECTOR: Tom Ford
CAST: Amy Adams, Jake Gyllenhaal, Michael Shannon, Aaron Taylor-Johnson, Isla Fisher, Armie Hammer, Laura Linney, Andrea Riseborough, Michael Sheen, Ellie Bamber, Robert Aramayo, Kristin Bauer van Straten, Karl Glusman, Jena Malone and Zawe Ashton
BOX OFFICE WORLDWIDE: $30.3m
AWARDS: 1 Golden Globe (Best Supporting Actor)
Nocturnal Animals is a film that has us following a woman named Susan, who receives a book manuscript from her ex-husband Edward, whom she left twenty years ago, and is titled ‘Nocturnal Animals’, a nickname he once had for her. He sends her the manuscript in order to get her opinion on the material and as she reads the manuscript, we see how the material unfolds before us as we follow the story visually of a man whose family vacation turns violent and deadly. As Susan continues to read the story, she finds herself recalling her marriage with Edward and confronting some dark truths about herself.
Tom Ford is an interesting figure. When he’s not maintaining his level of excellence with his label and being a fashion designer, from time to time he sits down and adapts and directs his film projects. The first of which was adapting Christopher Isherwood’s A Single Man (alongside David Scearce) and then seven years later, he brought Austin Wright’s novel Tony and Susan to the big screen adapting it to become Nocturnal Animals. From the films opening title sequence (which will raise eyebrows), you can immediately notice that Ford has crafted a film that is so technically precise, from the way every shot is framed right down to the colour and lighting of set designs, to the way the film is edited and its use of transitions, I couldn’t help but be immediately transfixed by it. So I have nothing but praise for Christopher Brown (Art direction), Meg Everist (Set decoration), Shane Valentino (Production design) and Joan Sobel (Film editor) for their work in this film, as well as cinematographer Seamus McGarvey and how he captures the settings, especially at nighttime. What also elevates the footage is enchanting yet haunting score composed by Abel Korzeniowski, who criminally didn’t even receive awards nomination love that year outside of the BAFTAs, and it’s definitely one of my favourite scores of that decade. The film juggles metaphors within the convoluted form of analogous storyline as we work with three timelines, the past between Susan and Edward, the present with Susan reading Edward’s manuscript and the visual representation of Edward’s manuscript brought to life. While the film works magnificently on a technical level, it helps that the performances from the ensemble cast are terrific as well. Amy Adams is terrific as Susan, who becomes disillusioned with where she is in her life that leads her to being so captivated by Edward’s manuscript, questioning the choices she made in their past relationship. But what Adams does well, more than any other actor out there, is convey her emotions through moments of nuance in her facial expressions that hit harder than any line of dialogue they can give her. While Jake Gyllenhaal plays dual roles as Edward Sheffield in the real world and also Tony Hastings in the novel, it’s in the latter that he really excels amongst performing off certain individuals there in a really dark, visceral storyline, which involves a highway sequence that, without gore, is one of the most slow-burn, intense and horrific scenes from the decade in how it’s executed. Michael Shannon is absolutely fantastic as Detective Bobby Andes, as he chews up the scenery in aiding Tony in his case and Aaron Taylor-Johnson provides the best performance of his career acting alongside Gyllenhaal and Shannon as Ray Marcus. His character and performance is meant to get under your skin and cause a reaction everytime you see him onscreen and I thought he was really convincing in the role.
FAVOURITE SCENE: The conversation at the restaurant between Susan and her mother Anne. It’s the only scene Laura Linney appears in and in five minutes or so we get a brief history about their characters and how pivotal this conversation is and will become, as she pleads with her daughter not to marry Edward. Did she rightly predict her daughter’s future or help shape it?
FAVOURITE QUOTE: “You may not realise it, but you & I are a lot more alike than you think.
No. You’re wrong. You and I are nothing alike.
Really? Just wait. We all eventually turn into our mothers.” – Anne Sutton and Susan Morrow
DID YOU KNOW: Aaron Taylor-Johnson was cast as Ray Marcus after Tom Ford had dined with Aaron and his wife and longtime Ford friend Sam Taylor-Johnson. Aaron did not think he’d be suitable for the part at all, but over the course of dinner Ford saw a glimmer of something that he found intriguing in Aaron’s facial expressions as he recounted a story at the dinner table. He then won a Golden Globe Award for his performance.