Nocturnal Animals (2016)

Rated R
Drama / Thriller
Try pairing with:  Sweet Chili Chicken w/ Sweet Potatoes & Broccoli

Jen’s Rating:  B

Flipping through Redbox looking for an interesting movie I watch the trailer for Nocturnal Animals. The preview made the movie look like it could go either way, good or bad but I love Amy Adams so, what the hay…

Nocturnal Animals is about Susan Morrow, played by Amy Adams who is a professional that owns an art gallery. She has what she thinks is a perfect life; wealthy with the trophy husband, Hutton Morrow played by Armie Hammer.

Hutton Morrow is constantly out of town on business but this time things are different. Susan received a novel manuscript from her estranged ex-husband, Edward Sheffield played by Jake Gyllenhaal which was dedicated to her and entitled Nocturnal Animals.

As Susan begins to read the novel she begins to have flashbacks of her past. The flashbacks made you care for both Susan and Edward. The novel was key. The novel showed how Edward felt about Susan. Yet you never knew how Susan felt until the end because her demeanor was drab and cold.  The path Susan took with the flashbacks and the novel helped unravel who she really was.

The novel itself would’ve been enough for a movie without all the added extras of Susan Morrow’s life.  As a mother of 2 girls I found the novel scenes very disturbing and nefarious which only enhanced the film.

Although I think the movie was great, I gave the movie a B rating instead of an A because it bounced back and fourth between Susan’s current life, her past life and the novel. When it came to her current and past life we had to go back a few times and re-watch a scene. The novel scenes were very easy to discern compared to the rest of the film.  Nocturnal Animals was a great find and totally not what I expected after watching the trailer.

Jeremy’s Rating:  B

So, when we first decided to rent this, I knew nothing about it other than the minor hype I had been getting from several people we knew that had already seen it.  Jen and I checked out a preview and decided it would be a good one to rent from our local spot, so we gave it a try and boy was I surprised.  It definitely fascinated me, and I was slightly taken aback by the title because it gave me a much different idea of how the film would be, but I liked this one overall.  Directed by Tom Ford, the aesthetic of the film definitely lets his roots as a fashion designer show through in many of the aspects, including the colors chosen, all the way down to what everyone wears throughout the movie.  It is full of dark overtone and slow pacing, but that is appropriate here.  Those looking for a quick romp or mind-blowing twist will not be fans of this.

Amy Adams plays Susan Morrow who heads an advertising or fashion firm, I was never really sure which, and her life is beginning to stagnate.  She has obviously had some issues in the past and it becomes known that she has had a rocky marriage to Edward Sheffield (Jake Gyllenhaal), who has recently finished a novel about a protagonist named Tony Hastings, based loosely on events in his own life interspersed with fiction.  When he and his family are traveling through the desert, they are happened upon by a group of locals-turned-murderers that take his family, causing Tony to spend the remainder of the film trying to find these men and serve them justice.

He is joined by a local investigator, easily my favorite character in the film, Bobby Andes (Michael Shannon), who has his own feelings and reasons for helping him find the people that took Tony’s family.  As Susan continues to read the draft that Edward provided, she begins to connect with the characters and the action within the novel and becomes more and more distant to her actual life and the events unfolding around her.  As she disassociates further her life begins to collapse seemingly until she can find closure within the book.  Which brings us to the ending…  I don’t want to ruin the ending so I won’t, but what I will say is that from what you come to expect from the rest of the film, is very anticlimactic, but extremely appropriate.  It causes you to think about the situation and who is the real victim; it’s not a disappointment, but I feel like there could have been more.

The acting in this film is superb.  Every character feels alive and real on screen, and you feel true sympathy towards those designed to, and true rage at the perpetrators in this universe.  It is very well written, and as long as you can sit through a slow build up with particularly dry writing, you will undoubtedly enjoy this film.  There are a few things that prevent it from true greatness, and unfortunately one of them really is the ending.  So I give this a middle-of-the-road B, a good grade nonetheless, for a really good film.

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