#REVIEW: “NOCTURNAL ANIMALS”
Based on the novel Tony and Susan by Austin Wright, the tale-within-a-tale gets the big screen treatment in NOCTURNAL ANIMALS, under the meticulous guidance of Writer/Producer/Director/Fashion Icon Tom Ford. Already, the suspenseful drama has won the acclaim of the festival circuit and is poised to impact the same moviegoing audience that loved the likes of Gone Girl and The Girl on the Train.
After affecting us with his 2009 debut A Single Man, Ford shows great growth in this sophomore feature centering on a woman named Susan (Amy Adams) who receives a copy of her ex-husband Edward‘s (Jake Gyllenhaal) latest novel, dedicated to her. The violent tale of revenge centers on a man named Tony (played also by Gyllenhaal) whom after encountering on the road one night a malicious group of young men, is targeted along with his wife (Isla Fisher) and daughter (Ellie Bamber). After tragedy unfolds, he encounters ‘loose’ Detective Bobby Andes (Michael Shannon) who helps him exact revenge. Riveted by the novel, Susan finds herself questioning her past, her feelings for Tony and also her life choices. We wonder, what will come of a reunion with the man whose heart she broke and hence inspired?
Shot elegantly by Cinematographer Seamus McGarvey, everything visually and tonally about Nocturnal Animals is artful from Arianne Phillips’ bespoke tailoring to props and backdrops, down to every frame of the Film. Despite being remarkably beautiful, the story manages still maintain edge and grit.
It is hard to believe that the same actress who played Giselle in Disney‘s Enchanted, is transformed here into the emotionally vulnerable and broken soul that is Adams in her deep dive into the psyche of distracted Susan. Not enough can be said about how Gyllenhaal despite reaching a sweet spot in his career delivering time and again impeccable work in recent years, has been overlooked continually during awards season. His dual performance as both aspiring writer Edward and more so the devastated Tony is affecting at every turn. Shannon thoroughly engages, sprinkling moments of dark humour in what otherwise is a heavy ride. Aaron Taylor-Johnson completely is unrecognizable, equally great and frustrating as the non-remorseful Ray Marcus.
While dark and beautiful, travelling down some of the same paths of regret which A Single Man had, Nocturnal Animals certainly is one of the brighter spots in a crowded slate of releases to grace us as we enter the Oscars race.
Universal Pictures Canada release NOCTURNAL ANIMALS Friday, November 18, 2016.