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Today is all about Lois Lane, high as fuck, pretending she knows about art. And about Zod, high as fuck, thinking he’s a sheriff <insert meme here>. Alright, Nocturnal Animals is not particularly geeky, but it does have “Lois Lane” and “Zod”, or the actors at least. And it’s refreshing not seeing Amy Adams being saved by Superman. Yes Silvers, because ‘Nocturnal Animals’ is unique and impressive, and I’ll tell you why.
Did you get the vibe? Great, so let’s get started.
Finally A Thriller With An Original Plot
Yes, this movie is based on a book, and even though I haven’t read it (so I can’t judge it as an adaptation), the movie itself is written properly. This is a story (the manuscript) within a story. We focus on Susan (Amy Adams) who reads this manuscript that has been written and sent by her ex-husband, and while she reads it, we start living this alternate story through her perspective. Every time we get to a scene where the tension is at its maximum, we are pulled away from the story as Susan stops reading for a moment. We follow her with a lot of back and forth between the main story and the secondary one without getting lost.
The Pace Is Unbridled
A frame story is nothing uncommon or new. But here it’s not about getting inside the second story, forgetting the first one, and then get pulled back to the main one in the end like in most movies. Here, we actually follow Susan while she’s reading through the alternate story. Besides that, she also keeps living her normal life, and we follow her there too. We don’t get to know the secondary story unless she’s reading it, and this helps connecting to this character. On top of that, we are touched by how this story affects her personally and plays with her mind. As much as with ours. The very specific pace and the fact we keep alternating between time and stories, keeps you on the edge the whole time. It’s brilliantly done and you don’t get bored not even once.
An Incredible Cast At Their Best
This is the best thing about this movie. First, we don’t have to witness Amy Adams being rescued every single second, and you realize how such a good actress she is. Indeed, she is this frigid art-gallery owner who does everything based on appearances. But in her younger years, she was more of a free-spirit along with her ex-husband, and she gets back to this state of mind because of his manuscript. In a more twisted way, this old life of hers will actually not save her but haunt her. For someone we are used to see being saved right away, we actually witness her sinking deeper and deeper into her own depression.
Michael Shannon (Sheriff Bobby Andes) is as dark and twisted as the whole mood of the movie, and being the law increases this feeling. Even though he is a secondary role, he brings a lot to the story. At some point you even wonder whether he’s dirty or not, and the movie even allowed some time and space to develop some background for this character. We get attached to him easily and the actor plays the role with perfection.
The last one, Jake Gyllenhaal (Tony/Edward) is simply breathtaking. He plays as Edward, the ex-husband, but also Tony, the main character of the inner story. We have flashbacks from Susan’s past from when they were together, and Jake manages to give her all the light and space she needs so we connect to her. At the same time, he takes the lead in the secondary story, probably scoring the best acting of his career. He gives it all, and we are so deeply connected to him that we feel everything he does. The way the character is written helps, of course. He is the average guy that is helpless and weak. Not the heroic type that will kill everyone. Everything feels true, authentic, realistic, and Jake brings all these feelings to life. There is a scene of him kneeling down and letting it all out, and he does rip your heart out. It’s purely amazing.
Nocturnal Animals is a thriller as we haven’t seen in a long time, but even as a movie in general, it stands out. The opening scene might feel peculiar and disturbing, and for the first minutes you might even wonder ‘what the fuck am I watching’. The ending of the inner story might have one or two small details that can be questioned. The ending of the movie in general will paralyze you for a few seconds, while you’re left there wondering, until you realize how the whole thing has blown your mind. But overall, Nocturnal Animals is simply incredible. The close-ups on the actors make you feel everything they want you to feel. And despite those long shots, you never feel bored, and the pace never feels slow. It keeps you on the edge the whole time and you are transported into this insane manuscript through the perspective of the haunted Amy Adams. I highly recommend this gem, and even if you don’t feel connected to the movie the same way I was, you will absolutely be blown away by Jake Gyllenhaal’s performance.
To me, this is Platinum.