Is it possible that we are taking Amy Adams for granted? Over the last decade, she has become the most dynamic actresses of our time. With roles that have ranged from one-off throwaway roles given exclusively to women (Nurses, Housewives etc.) to intriguing and often driven characters. Take Nocturnal Animals, for example, here we have a very intriguing story that requires quite a lot of dimension for an actress; however small her role may seem in the film overall, this role given to any other actress could have fallen flat. Of course, now, this role has been completely overshadowed by Jake Gyllenhaal, Michael Shannon and Aaron Taylor-Johnson’s performances which for Johnson was career changing. Nevertheless, Adams manages to bridge together the two storylines with an intriguing and an effortless performance.
Our story follows Susan, a successful curator and artist, who is in a marriage and life she did not plan for. A manuscript for a novel arrives written by her ex-husband and dedicated to her. As she starts to read the novel, she starts to realize what ultimately went wrong with her first marriage and even bigger picture what she did wrong with the rest of her life. As the story in the novel starts to unfold, we are left with a tragic tale on both sides that leaves us with mouths opens and quite a few questions.
Tom Ford manages to bring the phrase “Tragically Beautiful” to life better than any film I have ever seen. His ability to show us three worlds that are all interconnected is seamless and wonderful. I would be remiss if I were to ignore the fact that a huge reason Nocturnal Animals works so well is that of the story within the story. Mainly due to the trio of actors (Shannon, Gyllenhaal, and Taylor-Johnson) and their ability to carry the story along with such passion and finesse that it is unforgettable.
The Film 4/5
Ford is notorious for his confidence in his own unique style of filming. Every powerful moment and image have an equally contrasting and unique image. This is even more true and present within this film. The film makes a rather powerful statement within the first few minutes that we soon learn contrasts the various images we see throughout. Nocturnal Animals is filmed like two films. One with a high-class corporate feel, and the other with a gritty mystery and dark noir feeling to it. These stories could not be more different. However, they are blended together effortlessly using matching images and an overarching storyline to connect the dots (Match Cuts). Even more than that Ford makes a point to separate the three worlds (the novel, the present, and the past) with distinctive color palettes and by doing so the audience has a much easier time keeping the story straight. This would be a near impossible task to most, however legendary cinematographer Seamus McGarvey makes it look easy. In the end, Adams carries the weight of it all. She is the link between worlds and without her drawing us in we would have no context for the story that lies beneath.
Picture Quality 5/5
Ford is nothing if not committed to his vision and this is more than evident in the score. The pressure was most certainly on for composer Abel Korzeniowski, who reportedly received a riding crop as a gift from the director as a joke and a foreboding message for the task ahead. Ford wanted something rather specific. He needed something that would set the tone and simultaneously bridge two worlds together. It needed to be noir and resilient. This would be no easy task for anyone. Luckily Korzeniowski did what needed to be done, and the score says it all. It’s ominous, beautiful and distinct and the film simply wouldn’t work without it. Our audio track transferred well for home viewing and it would seem we lost nothing from the experience from the silver screen to the small one.
Audio Quality 5/5
The packaging for Nocturnal Animals, I found to be a bit disappointing. I can understand the artwork being hard to choose that could reflect what kind of story takes place in the film. However, simple when in doubt is always a good move. On the slip cover, we have a matte feeling cover with a gloss finish over the main characters. On the inside, we have the now standard plain silver discs with red and blue lettering. Still lacks any sort of flair, and still seems lazy.
The Packaging 3/5
There is some great content in these featurettes. Ford has an ability to break things down, to the point where every intricate detail he included seems overwhelmingly obvious. For that, I will say, I really enjoyed hearing him break down his synopsis and overall point to telling the story. Other than that I would have loved to hear more from the actors/actress involved in bringing the story to life. The special features included are as follows:
- The Making of Nocturnal Animals
- Building the Story
- Ford takes us through the interweaving that took place during the film
- The Look of Nocturnal Animals
- Ford takes us through the three sections of the film and the different color tones and what they signify
- The Filmmaker’s Eye: Tom Ford
- Ford takes us through the adjoining moments that he left in that you will only catch upon viewing it more than once
- Building the Story
Special Features 3/5
Nocturnal Animals is an impossible film. If someone asked me how you would film a story like this I would never have been able to come up with something so elegant, tragic, and all around beautiful. This is storytelling at its finest. I have never really been a fan of Ford as a director but this story is just too good to ignore. The performances in this film are simply outstanding. Shannon, Gyllenhaal, and Taylor-Johnson are an irresistible trio and I could not take my eyes off of them. This is an easy choice, hard to watch but even harder to forget. You can purchase this edition HERE.