Sexy but disappointing
Nocturnal Animals (2016): 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.
Oh Tom Ford....how do you follow up A Single Man with this? Maybe I'm just not.....cultured enough to understand it. There's a lot going on here, that's for sure, but at the end of the day for as meticulous and immaculate as the set design is, the movie is.....sloppy. There is so much going on in front of the viewer spread out between three different storylines, but we spend so little time in two of them that the only one I cared about was the storyline of the book Amy Adams was reading. But, of course, even that storyline had a lot of problems. And when you're main storyline has issues.....you're in for a bad time.
That said, there's a lot of things this movie should be praised for, specifically costumes, makeup, and set design. All three of these aspects of the film are spectacular, and make it look absolutely gorgeous. Heck, the film was so messy story-wise as it went on I just basically turned off my brain and looked at it. I was perfectly content with this too! Though it's hardly surprisng: for those who don't know, Tom Ford is one of Hollywood's top fashion designers. He is most notably the creative director of Gucci and is responsible for turning it into..... whatever it is today, Ford has a long list of influential friends in the fashion/movie business. So you would kind of expect a film he directs to be jammed with stars and looking absolutely gorgeous. From both of these standpoints, the film delivers. Apart from Amy Adams, who's absolutely gorgeous here, and Jake Gyllenhaal, who looks pretty good himself, this film has a trove of well-known actors in the supporting cast. Michael Shannon is wonderful as ever, Aaron Taylor-Johnson puts in the performance of his career, (though that's not saying much) and Isla Fisher and Armie Hammer are pretty good too. And you know you have an influential director when you can bring in Laura Linney, Andrea Riseborough, Michael Sheen, and Jena Malone for about two speaking lines each.
Where it doesn't deliver, however, is the story. The story is a mess, and unfortunately it brings the entire film down with it. My biggest problem with this story is that there doesn't really seem to be an overarching theme here. What is this movie about, exactly? Is it a story about revenge? Is it a story about remorse? A story about what happens to your mind when you suffer from extreme insomnia? A statement about our overbearing materrialistic culture? I DON'T KNOW. Maybe some people enjoy stories that are all of those things at once, but I don't. I want a direction. I want plot points. Intrigue. A cohesive beginning, middle, and end. There are certainly films that entice me that don't do that (see: Cloud Atlas) but it takes something truly daring like that to draw me in. Sadly, this film is not as daring as Cloud Atlas. I tried sticking with it for so long, but it's just too scatterbrained to keep me drawn in. So I gave up! And looked at it because it is pretty. I'm sure there will be others who say this film is brilliant, but I'm not one of them. If you wanna see it, in my opinion you're seeing it because it is sexy to look at, and that's it. (I mean....look at that picture I used for the review. Is that not gorgeous?) You have been warned.
The Critique: Despite gorgeous set design, costumes, and makeup, Nocturnal Animals is brought down by a messy and scatterbrained plot.
The Recommendation: Unless you're really into set design, there are vastly better movies out there right now elsewhere.
The Verdict: 4/10 Below Average
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