Nocturnal Animals (2016)

Wow. Just wow.

Every so often, I will see a film that makes it hard to leave the theater. Not because I’m afraid and not because I’m exhausted—but because I’m in such awe that I’m paralyzed. No energy or desire to leave my seat.

It was like that with Cloud Atlas, and it was like that with Nocturnal Animals, Tom Ford’s latest effort since A Single Man. The film, to put it simply, is a refined masterpiece, any flaws it may have being overwhelmed by the force of its artistic vision.

Nocturnal Animals revolves around Susan (Amy Adams), an art curator who receives a manuscript from her ex-husband, Edward (Jake Gyllenhaal). They were married back in grad school, but eventually Susan broke his heart by declaring her unhappiness. As Susan begins reading his novel, a visual dramatization in which the man is portrayed by Gyllenhaal, she finds it haunting, and yet she cannot put it down.

I won’t get into the details of that narrative, except to say that it draws some unsettling parallels to Susan’s life. It’s violent, too, which doesn’t help. What did he mean by sending it to her, and more importantly, how is it going to end? It almost becomes difficult to tell which is real and which is fiction, which present and which past, since they are so seamlessly woven together, and every single actor is at the top of their game. Adams, particularly after Arrival, deserves a bloody Oscar.

Plus, being a Tom Ford film, the style is also a centerpiece, both in the production design and the costuming, which add up to form a really sort of European feel. You just don’t see these kinds of films being made in America, and they’re barely being made at all. The ending… Exquisite is a nice word for it, and so is literary. Ford works like a mixture of Nicolas Winding-Refn and David Fincher, while being his own, impossibly elegant beast.

This film will make nocturnal animals of us all. Again, just… wow.

3.5 Green

Nocturnal Animals is in theaters now.

P.S. Another reason I couldn’t leave my seat was because of the musical score. It was magnificent, if not a bit unsuited to the material.


2 thoughts on “Nocturnal Animals (2016)

  1. Pingback: Miss Sloane (2016) | The Stoplight

  2. Pingback: Best of 2016 | The Stoplight

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