Nocturnal Animals: Darkly Intense & Beautifully Sad – My Thoughts

As you might know, I was conflicted on what to see this weekend (I saw Doctor Strange last week) so put my faith in a twitter poll to make my decision for me. It also helps that Alicia ‘Inspiration’ Malone told me to see this over The Accountant too…I’ve got to say, I’m very glad the poll went this way…

Nocturnal Animals is exactly the kind of compelling story you expect to see as we get further towards ‘awards season’. While there are certainly still enough ‘blockbusters’ being released in the coming months to maintain anyone’s attention (Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, Rogue One: A Star Wars Story) as well as last week’s release of Marvel latest (and great) film, Doctor Strange, it’s films like Nocturnal Animals that we love to see released and unfortunately, often stay under the radar.

The independent films of this year have far surpassed the blockbusters in terms of quality and this film is yet another example of an incredibly impressive smaller film that doesn’t deserve to go unseen.

The film tells the story of Susan (Amy Adams), an art gallery owner who receives a novel, titled ‘Nocturnal Animals’, written by her ex-husband, Edward (Jake Gyllenhaal), dedicated to her and while reading it, it begins to haunt her as it tells a violent story that she interprets as a revenge tale against herself.

The mirroring that director Tom Ford incorporates into this film is genius. You are gripped by the story from beginning to end and interpret the novel yourself as it plays out on screen with Gyllenhaal also playing its protagonist, Tony Hastings.

It is this mirroring and the gorgeous cinematography that makes this film so beautiful to watch, but the melancholy tone and the sadness of the story makes the beauty of it that much more noticeable and is another way in which this film will get deep within you should you let it. Ford completely delivers with his direction in this film; it’s fitting that Amy Adams’ character is an art gallery owner when the film itself is so artistic. You can be sure that’s no coincidence.

Nocturnal Animals also benefits from an incredible supporting cast including the always great indie favourite, Michael Shannon (Midnight Special, Man of Steel) and Aaron Taylor-Johnson (Godzilla, Avengers: Age of Ultron) who are both excellent in their roles as characters within the novel. It is Gyllenhaal himself who shines in this one though, playing both the writer, Edward and his novel’s protagonist, Tony with the familiar dark and disturbing characteristics that we know and love Gyllenhaal for.

While Nocturnal Animals may not be a film for everyone as it’s not necessarily a casual easy watch, it’s incredibly gripping and beautifully shot; the embodiment of art on screen. It’s not your typical movie, even weirder than a lot of independent movies being that it is a story within a story, but so wonderfully acted and intense in its gloomy tone that it is entirely worth your time.

The score by Abel Korzeniowski, who previously worked with Tom Ford on A Single Man as well as on the fantasy horror series Penny Dreadful, also fits in perfectly with the style and tone of this film. It’s clear that Ford and Korzeniowski are on exactly the same wavelength.

If you’re looking to see something this week besides Doctor Strange again, or are simply just a fan of the originality that independent film brings, Nocturnal Animals is certainly the one to go for. It will leave you thinking about what you’ve just seen, analysing it, realising both the sadness and the satisfying twistedness of it and you will not come out disappointed.

And if the exceedingly weird opening credits don’t intrigue you in their strangeness, the rest of the film surely will.

Be sure to let me know your thoughts on this film, use #PurpleDonMovies on twitter and check me out on Twitter and Instagram!

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