Sunday, November 27, 2016

Nocturnal Animals: Monday, November 21 2016

Nocturnal Animals is based on the novel, Tony and Susan (1993), by Austin Wright. The film is described as a neo-noir, psychological thriller. Neo-noir is the modern version of film noir, with many elements in common. The hero is often trapped in a desperate situation, and the dark lighting and unusual camera angles in the film reflect his despair. The story can use flashbacks, and usually involves crime and human emotions such as jealousy or greed. There is often an amoral policeman or detective involved in the action. The whole atmosphere is hopeless, and unrelieved black.

Produced and directed by Tom Ford, Nocturnal Animals includes these elements. Revenge is the human emotion prominent in the film. The story revolves around a book being read by Susan Morrow, played by Amy Adams. The author is her first husband, Hutton Morrow played by Jake Gyllenhaal, whom she has divorced, telling him his writing was of a poor standard. He has sent her a first copy of his successful book, which is to be published shortly. Susan is impressed, and when they set up a dinner date, Hutton Morrow gets his revenge on his ex-wife, by standing her up. The film ends with her sitting waiting, and waiting. We know he won't come, as, eventually, does she.

The book is played out before our eyes, as Susan reads it. It is definitely in the neo-noir genre. Desperate situation, dark and violent, it reminded me of Hamlet as all the main characters end up dead. Justice is done, and seen to be done, which I always like, but in this case with so much violence it leaves a sour feeling behind. As does Hamlet. I guess some people nowadays no more need a happy ending than did some of the audiences of Shakespeare's time. Perhaps it is a movie that would appeal to males rather than females.

This is a powerful film, made by consummate professionals, and will probably be in the Oscars. The acting is fantastic, as is the direction, and every facet of the cinematic arts. Jake Gyllenhaal is memorable as Tony Hastings, the chief character in the book. He will probably receive an Oscar nomination as Best Actor. Michael Shannon as Bobby Andes, the amoral policeman, is also difficult to forget.

Did I enjoy Nocturnal Animals? I admired the professional skills of everyone involved in its creation. Would I recommend it to others? It you have a strong stomach for violence, and don't miss a happy ending, this might be the film for you. I would say it has come out of the darker side of the male mind, and perhaps it takes a similar mind set to enjoy. Definitely not my mind set.

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