Sunday, December 11, 2016


NOCTURNAL ANIMALS is a 2016 film written and directed by fashion designer Tom Ford. It is his second movie following 2009's A SINGLE MAN, which was a critical darling. I am unfamiliar with the world of fashion but after watching only his second directorial feature, the man should get behind the camera more often.

With a film staring Amy Adams and Jake Gyllenhaal you'd think such star power would have NOCTURNAL ANIMALS playing nationwide? I love going to my local art-house movie theater, but given the chance, I'm picking the multiplex. It's a matter of better presentation, sorry. So as I was saying, two big movie stars and no wide release? Weird. It wasn't until the movie started that I realized why this wasn't playing across the hall from MOANA.

The opening minutes of NOCTURNAL AMIMALS is the most awkward time I've had in a theater this year. A bunch of middle aged obese women dancing around in nothing but their birthday suit. Awkward. I started to wonder if this was Tom Ford's attempt to be David Lynch? At this moment the context of the naked women became clear, we're watching an art exhibit show. There is a meaning behind them but I best leave that to those better at film analysis.

Susan (Amy Adams) a art gallery owner one day receives a manuscript from her ex husband Edward (Jake Gyllenhaal), whom she hasn't spoken to or seen in years. She begins to read the book and quickly discovers it mirrors their relationship.

When we first meet Susan she is a very lonely woman. Which explains her exhibit of naked overweight women. The women are happy and liberated. Susan is not. A lot of empty spaces occupy her home. And the relationship with her womanizing new husband appears unhealthy and toxic. Susan begins to read the book and she gets hooked. At first it's because of how much the story reminds her of what she did to Edward. This is one of three narratives shown non linearly in the film. The novel is second narrative.

The novel is about one man's revenge against those who raped and murdered his wife and child. With the help of a Texas lawman they track the men down and plan to kill them. Without getting too spoiler-ish the events in the book mirror why Susan and Edward ended their marriage. More accurately, why Susan wanted to get a divorce.

The third narrative is how our main characters met, fell in love, and got divorced. This is where the film really gets interesting and cool, or too 'on the nose' depending on your taste. NOCTURNAL ANIMALS is a film that requires undivided attention.

Once we start seeing how Susan and Edward met and fell in love, director Tom Ford starts giving us awesome visual cues. One example; in the manuscript narrative, the mother and daughter are found dead on a red couch. In the past narrative we see Susan telling Edward that she wants a divorce, she's sitting on a red couch.

That was an easy example, there are tougher ones that I won't spoil. The ending is a big one that I'm still trying to figure out. NOCTURNAL ANIMALS is indeed a revenge story but it also might be the best thing to ever happen to Susan. Edward may have hurt her and helped her at the same time?

I was expecting more of a straight forward film noir with NOCTURNAL ANIMALS. But glad I got a more complex movie instead.

In conclusion, I'm only recommending NOCTURNAL ANIMALS to movie buffs. I could see a lot of moviegoers hating the three narrative structure of the film. Amy Adams and Jake Gyllenhaal are good as always!

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