December 26, 2016

Theatrical Review: Nocturnal Animals (2016)

"Highbrow Neo-Noir with an A-list cast."

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt4550098/
Amidst each year's more typical genre offerings, there are always a few higher-minded Thrillers that come along and, well, thrill us. Most of these Thrillers tend to be foreign films -S.Korea and France do them well, and there's nothing quite like a good Scandi Thriller- but every now and then we get one out of Hollywood that just ends up being gold.

Nocturnal Animals is one such flick.

There are going to be SPOILERS below, because it's hard to discuss this movie without delving into that territory, so maybe skip "The Bad" section so as not to ruin the movie for yourselves.

Susan is a sexy art gallery owner who is trapped in a marriage with a cheating bastard, so when her ex-husband sends her the manuscript for his new book, she figures "hey, my marriage sucks, so I might as well curl up on the couch and get to reading." After all, he's in town promoting the book, and he's asked her to dinner, so the least she can do is read his book before she meets him, because as miserable as her life is, why not cling to the memory of the man that she left for greener pastures? The girl has issues.

READING. YOU'RE DOING IT WRONG.
The book itself is about a man, wife, and daughter who are traveling down a desolate West Texas highway in the dead of night, when three local creeps run them off the road, assault the women, and hunt the man down in an attempt to kill him. So it's a love story, essentially.

"I AIN'T DONE RAPED NOBODY WHO AIN'T KIN."
When Susan realizes that the story is about she and her ex-husband, and the events that lead to the demise of their relationship, in unexpected ways, it starts to mess with her head. And ours. So, she puts on a red dress and gets ready for the best dinner date ever.

Some genuinely satisfying "take that!" revenge ensues.

THAT'S WHAT YOU GET!
Nocturnal Animals is an excellent Neo-Noir Thriller, of the psychological variety. It boasts a tight script that is acted out by an insanely talented cast, all of which is brought together perfectly by the direction of Tom Ford. Well, almost perfectly. It was really close.

This is a gritty movie, and a psychologically demanding one, but it's really the emotional weight of the story, and the baggage carried by the characters that make it so harrowing, albeit on a completely different level than we had imagined before seeing it.

It's Neo-Noir done at the highest level, and it's exactly the kind of movie that we crave.

The more I think about it, the more I really loved the ending of this movie. Without giving anything away (we've saved the spoilers for the section below), Amy Adams' journey throughout Nocturnal Animals, and especially the place she ends up in the last scene, is so damn fitting that it hurts.

This was definitely Amy Adams' movie, and she does her usual stellar work here; and Jake Gyllenhaal and Michael Shannon pull their weight equally well (especially Shannon, who killed his role in a big way) but for us it was Aaron Taylor-Johnson who stole the show with his intense and creepy turn in this one. In a movie that boasts such a stellar cast doing really solid work, that's saying something.

YOU JUST CAN'T BEAT THIS MAN FOR INTENSITY.
***BEWARE SPOILERS!***

As much as we loved the movie as a group, I also found this movie to be challenging, because it's a bit too high-minded for its own good. Most Thrillers have to come with a shocking twist or two, that's just how it goes, but I am not a big fan of movies that offer twists which negate what I've just experienced. The twists at the end of Nocturnal Animals are well done and intriguing, and they serve the narrative well, but they also negate everything that happened throughout the movie... because those things never happened. It's all an allegory in book form, written by one character to another, to convey his feelings about being dumped, and to get some sort of psychological revenge against the woman who broke his heart.

Again, it works well, and makes for an excellent, emotional narrative, but man does it ever suck when all kinds of cool and intense things happen in a movie, only to find out that none of it ever really happened.

***END OF SPOILERS***

KEEP DRINKING, IT WON'T HELP.
Dropping a deuce while naked on a toilet on your front porch? And we have to see the dirty toilet paper too? What I the hell is going on in West Texas?!?

SORRY AARON, BUT THAT'S INDOOR BUSINESS, MAN.
This is not a gory movie at all, but it does have plenty of violence throughout.

HE CAME TO BRING THE PAIN.
Aaron Taylor-Johnson takes a naked number 2 on his front porch...

...WHILE AMY ADAMS REMAINS FULLY CLOTHED. WHERE IS THE JUSTICE!
Relationships are terrifying. Also, you should never throw over true love in order to marry someone who has a better pedigree, because you'll only end up feeling cheated and miserable in the end.

POOR JAKE...
A great movie, even if we didn't exactly love the twist that drove the whole thing forward, Nocturnal Animals is one that will surely please fans of Psychological Thrillers with a romantic bent. It may not end up being what you expect by the end, but it's a journey that's well-worth taking anyhow. The more I think about it, the more it haunts me... and I know that sounds like hyperbole, but it's the truth.

Go see it.

A-

Nocturnal Animals is in theaters now.

Oh, Amy Adams, the things you do to us...

4 comments :

  1. I feel like your 'bad' section is literally the entire premise of the movie. So I'm rather confused. lol

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  2. Spoilers
    Didnt like it all, really ambitious but at the end it wasted my time. At the end nothing happens in this movie and sometimes you can spot some technical issues in the directing (the shooting in the cabin is awfully shot and the Gyllenhaal death is quite ridiculous). To sum up its just a stupid and childish revenge.
    I know you r colour blind so just to correct your review the dress is green.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Phantastic film. This and ARRIVAL are my favorite movies of 2016.

    ReplyDelete