This film is exquisite, unoriginal but exquisite. Nocturnal Animals is latest film from writer director Tom Ford. It won the Silver Lion award at the Venice Film Festival 2016. It’s dark, deftly shot film about revenge, loss, hatred and the chasm between perception and reality.
Susan Morrow (Amy Adams) is the rich, lonely, married protagonist. Her ex husband sends her his manuscript called Nocturnal Animals – his nickname for her. It’s no wonder she divorced him. As she reads the book we see it brought to life with Laura Hastings (Isla Fisher) as her fictional self and her ex husband Tony Hastings / Edward Sheffield (Jake Gyllenal) playing himself. They are driving from their house to their holiday home on a lonesome stretch of road and when they have the misfortune of running into some rednecks lead by Ray Marcus (Aaron Taylor Jonhson) and, stop me if I’ve said too much, rednecks terrorise rich couple and their daughter. Will they escape with their lives or will she stop reading the book?
The first half of the film is good and then it drags. It’s also unoriginal but the direction and this meta style of storytelling, an augmented reality, which was most recently seen in Clouds of Sils Maria makes it more interesting. It’s a story within a story. As only Tom Ford can do he makes the grotesque beguiling and grief positively mesmerising. The opening sequence is testament to this. The performance he elicits from Aaron Taylor Johnson is award worthy and his best since Anna Karina. As for Michael Shannon he dominates every minute of screen time given. Had Nocturnal Animals been brutally edited to 1hr 30 rather rather than the 1hr 55 current running time it would have made this film edgier, gutsier even. As it stands – it is thrilling, dark as molasses tale that leaves you shaken and stirred.
Nocturnal Animals is released in cinemas across the UK on Friday 4 November.
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