Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Nocturnal Animals

By Sati. Wednesday, December 28, 2016 , , , , , ,

 (spoilers!)
2016 is officially the worst year ever. Not only a whole bunch of awful and tragic stuff happened but with the exception of The Witch every single movie I was waiting for and had its very own header on this website sucked. The Revenant. Suicide Squad. And now this.

I love A Single Man. It's one of my all time favorite movies - it's beautifully shot, well acted, profound, moving. It's done with a lot of thought and a lot of heart. I don't know what Tom Ford's goals where when he was making Nocturnal Animals but unless those goals were to make something other than trash he did not succeed.
The film follows vapid and uptight Susan who has a job in a gallery, a cheating husband and deer in the headlights look throughout the film. Susan is unhappy. One day she gets a manuscript of a book her ex-husband Edward, one she left 19 years ago, wrote and dedicated to her. Since that moment the movie starts going back and forth between Susan's life and the events in the book.

I'm just gonna go ahead and start listing the flaws of this movie. The dialogue is ridiculous. Nobody talks like that. Maybe Ford is surrounded with starving models and yes men and doesn't know it, but the script doesn't have a single believable human interaction. The two worst scenes when it comes to lines are the interactions between Tony and Bobby about looking older and Susan's conversation with her secretary or whoever that was. Add to that the whole bunch of implausible stuff - the whole roadside altercation is so stupid -Tony makes zero effort to stop what's happening, confronting him with Ray in one room by the cops is just not something that would ever happen in real life etc. I really cannot decide which was more unbelievable - Susan's scenes or the events of the book.
The symbolism! Ford should have just inserted subtitles describing the scenes to the audience because he already treats them as complete morons. When the book arrives Susan gives herself a paper cut (get it? She has blood on her hands!). When Susan is walking around the gallery she passes a gigantic sign with the word "REVENGE" plastered on it (get it? The book is revenge!). Fragile! (shot above). It's all so in your face it's cringe inducing. And then there are ridiculous jump scares that add absolutely nothing and are not justified at all. And also a truly disgusting rape scene flashback which was completely unnecessary. When that happened I knew that this is not gonna be a great movie, just a trash script handled by a juvenile director.

And the whole conclusion is so banal...the ending is actually not ambiguous at all, to me it's clear he doesn't show up. Ford is out there giving laughable interviews how he wants people to decide if Edward shows up because he "still loves her" or he doesn't and she helped him write "his masterpiece". First of all, what masterpiece? Edward's book is awful. Not only is it cliched but there is a whole chain of implausible things in it. I don't think you could make even a mediocre TV movie out of that book. Second of all, this whole time we are being led to think Susan did something awful to Edward. What happened was she decided to leave him, found herself a new guy and aborted Edward's baby. This is banal. This sort of thing happens. And also what is Ford trying to say here? That Susan is the devil for deciding she wanted a different life? What, should she force herself to have a child with a man she was leaving? I don't like what Ford is suggesting here. It reeks of sexist undertones. And third of all - 19 years. This guy was holding a grudge for 19 years?
Then you have the performances - Gyllenhaal tries but he really can't do much with material like that. Adams is good when she plays a really well written or clearly good/evil oriented character - someone purely good like in Doubt or someone bad like in the Master. But when the character is this boring, she is just forgettable. It's simply Amy Adams looking sad walking around in nice clothes.

Johnson is ridiculous in most of his scenes and HFPA nominating him for Golden Globe is so clearly yet another pathetic attempt of theirs to lure a pretty person to red carpet. Ford must have been super horny for Armie Hammer to cast him here as a 40-year old with a teenage daughter. Jena Malone is laughable in her cameo role. Laura Linney gives a performance so over the top that it's actually funny so at least it's something. Andrea Riseborough and Michael Sheen show up for 5 minutes and out-act everyone listed above.
The only person who made this pretentious mess worth seeing was Michael Shannon whose charisma and great comedic timing saved this film. He plays Bobby Andes, detective who basically has to hold Tony's hand the entire time as he switches between being barely upset his wife and daughter were raped and killed and being totally distraught to the point of crippling despair (I don't remember the last time I saw a character as atrociously written as Gyllenhaal's Tony here). Shannon is funny, interesting and doesn't seem too lost in ridiculous plot. He gives a wonderful performance in a mess of a movie.

Another highlight is the pretty cinematography and lovely score. But it's really not enough. If you told me this movie was made by someone who made A Single Man I wouldn't believe you. There are people out there trying to figure out connections between Edward's book and Susan's real life but I just sit here astonished that anyone cares. I truly don't, hence 10 paragraph review is all this movie gets.

Nocturnal Animals (2016, USA, 116 min)
Plot: An art gallery owner is haunted by her ex-husband's novel, a violent thriller she interprets as a veiled threat and a symbolic revenge tale.
Director: Tom Ford
Writers: Tom Ford (screenplay), Austin Wright (novel)
Stars: Amy Adams, Jake Gyllenhaal, Michael Shannon

13 comments:

  1. 2016 really has been all over the place! I think everyone either loved or hated this one, I haven't read any middle-ground reviews. It's made me really curious to see A Single Man though!

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    1. A Single Man was a great movie, this however was a misunderstanding :)

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  2. I'm just glad you liked Jena's lone appearance. I enjoyed the film a lot as I just love how dark it is. I really hope Michael Shannon gets some attention as he was awesome in this film.

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    1. Well I didn't, I wrote she was laughable. Don't know why she agreed to spend her time on this thankless role.

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  3. Oh God...this sounds absolutely awful. I'm glad I didn't drag myself to the cinema to see it as I intended to do. That symbolism...I cringed just by looking at the picture.

    I feel like Shannon is one of the most underrated actors of our generation. He can literally turn a shit role into absolute gold. He's truly sensational.

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    1. I only saw him give bad performance once in that awful Superman movie but I cannot really blame him for that one :P

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  4. So bummed this didn't work out for you! I didn't take issue with the way Tony acted during the car scene, that felt real to me. Some people are meek and cowardly and him being one of those people, I don't think it was a stretch he'd bumble his way through it. As for the police scenes in the book, I accepted them because they were fiction. Edward isn't a good writer, but he's letting his revenge guide him.

    Armie Hammer as a 40 year old is total bullshit though, as was that rape flashback. Those I agree with. I hated them.

    I forgot about the heavy handed symbolism! That's pretty funny in retrospect.

    Great review!

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    1. Yeah but Ford is saying Edward's book is a masterpiece and that he found himself through Susan on some other crap like that. I mean that was just so bad, I saw TV movies that had better and more realistic plot than 'book' scenes in this movie

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  5. Nocturnal Animals was definitely a disappointment. I really don't think the two stories were cohesive and I feel like Amy Adams was hardly in it.

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    1. Yeah I was so let down by it :/ I expected more from Ford.

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  6. I'm with Brittani on this one, bummed that you ended up hating it, and that you didn't enjoy it at all. And like her, I didn't really focus on those words on screen, or didn't notice them enough, who knows why, as I thought I was clued to the screen the whole time.

    For me, everything worked out well. Only weakness was Aaron, or if not a weakness per say, definitely not worth praise when it comes to the award season. Like, for me Gyllenhaal and Shannon did most of the work.

    The fact that the book plot was not believable is totally fine with me too because it is stated in the movie that Edward is technically not a really good writer, and his book was so focused on the revenge element, he might have not paid enough attention to the details.

    As for the car scene, I'm with Brittani with this one as well. Many people think non-action is better than action in these types of situations. He was not trying to provoke him, yet it was clear, the guy was going to be angry either way. I feel like the daughter was the most wrong in this situation, as she was verbally provoking them, which I would have never done.

    Too bad though, I thought for sure you were going to like it.. or at least not hate it as much. Hopefully with the next header movie your going to like it! Have you mentioned what 2017 release you are anticipating the most this year?

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    1. I really don't get the praise for his dude. He was good but in no way was he even near the level of Shannon's performance. So sad he got the Globe when Shannon wasn't even nominated.

      The thing though is that Ford has been saying that this is Edward's masterpiece and he reached some sort of literary genius through his broken heart...so....no, not for me :D

      I'd be fine with car scene except that character of his didn't really seem all that bothered his family was savagely killed later i the movie either...I don't know it was hard for me to buy, the characterization there was not very believable and the scenes not well written

      eh...Blade Runner, probably? not many, though.

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  7. Loved this movie. Adams and Gyllenhaal are very good in this. I actually love how divisive this movie is.

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