Nocturnal Animals which stars Jake Gyllenhaal, Amy Adams, Aaron Taylor-Johnson, Michael Shannon and Isla Fisher is the second movie from fashion designer / movie director, Tom Ford. As an appreciator of Ford’s clearly wide-ranging creative abilities and a fan of the film’s highly talented cast, I was excited even before seeing the teaser trailer.
Without any doubt, Nocturnal Animals is a film well done, especially in terms of the actors and all that they were able to convey ever so convincingly. The story is engaging and it certainly left me incredibly grateful for my circumstances and experiences to date. However, even though the synopsis for Nocturnal Animals explains that ‘a wealthy gallery owner is haunted by her ex-husband’s novel, a violent thriller she interprets as a symbolic revenge tale’, I still didn’t expect the nature of the very dark turn everything took quite early on in this movie.
Approximately fifteen minutes into Nocturnal Animals, I started to wonder if I was going to be able to continue watching further. Reason being, what was happening on screen was so intense, uncomfortable and scary, for anyone, but especially from the point of view of a young female.
I enjoyed the cinematography and all the performances. I even found myself feeling particularly happy for Gyllenhaal because he got to play a character more vulnerable than any he’d ever played before. And since I’d become so used to seeing his characters mostly in control in his movies, seeing him with very little control made me want to stop watching and switch over to a movie where the people he played had more power. I.e. Nightcrawler (2014). I think this means 1) that I don’t enjoying watching suffering and 2) I may be too attached to my favourite actors and I mostly prefer to see them in roles where they get to win.
As a fan of his great work in Nowhere Boy (2009) especially, I’d also become comfortable with liking the characters played by Aaron Taylor-Johnson. Thanks to the Nocturnal Animals trailer, I knew that liking Taylor-Johnson’s character in Ford’s movie wasn’t going to happen, but my oh my did he play his role well.
In terms of the things I liked less about this movie, a part of me found the music and what looked like stills of the clouds / landscape a tad annoying. Also, some of the editing towards the end had me wishing that the story was told in a more traditional style, if only so I could follow things better. But my reaction to these seemingly little annoyances is nothing compared to how I felt immediately after the ending. ‘No! Mr Ford, No!’ I screamed as I slapped the wall to my right with frustration. ‘Are you really ending it there? I’m so mad at you for ending it there! Aaaaaaarrrrggg!!!’ Damn it, Tom! Nooooooooooooooo…! I continued for a good four minutes.
Maybe you won’t have reactions as strong as mine from beginning to end. But the best reasons for watching Nocturnal Animals include the brilliant performances and another presentation of Tom Ford’s enviable and inspiring creative gifts.
Happy Film Loving