Sunday, February 12, 2017

Nocturnal Animals - 7 stars out of 10

Nocturnal Animals - 7 stars out of 10

"Nocturnal Animals" is a depressing, disturbing, creepy, sad film that reveals the true nature of its characters through an allegorical novel.  It is one of those films that I didn't really enjoy but I couldn't stop watching because I had to know what happened next (in both the real world and the fictional story).  While the plot was compelling, I wish that I could unsee the bizarre homage to overweight, naked women jumping around in slow motion while wearing marching band helmets that opened the film.  The purpose?  To tell us that Amy Adams is an art gallery owner.  Couldn't they have just displayed the text "Amy Adams is an art gallery owner," or had her say in conversation "I own an art gallery?"  I don't understand why it was necessary to watch a graphic surrealist montage FOR THREE MINUTES in order to deliver this information.  The film's noir-style cinematography and music would have made a much more suitable opening.  Along with the endless stream of strong profanity (the majority of which is unnecessary to developing realism), it is a great example of how Hollywood fills movies with immorality without an actual purpose.  On another note, the film was well-acted.  Amy Adams' performance is good but seems less impressive because this year's "Arrival" offered her an opportunity to be so much more expressive.  I did appreciate her realistic portrayal of the remorse that many women feel after an abortion.  Aaron Taylor-Johnson deserved the Oscar nomination for Supporting Actor more than Michael Shannon.  And Jake Gyllenhaal deserved it even more (though he was probably considered in the Lead category).  I'm glad that Taylor-Johnson was acknowledged with the Golden Globe win because he is the driving force behind the film's disturbing atmosphere.  The score by Abel Korzeniowski also contributes to the atmosphere with a few hints of "Vertigo" to help enhance the film noir-style.  Even though I found the story to be uncomfortable, I thought it deserving of a screenplay Oscar nomination for effectively managing this story that takes place in several different time periods and realities.  "Nocturnal Animals" is an interesting film because you may not enjoy it but you'll feel a sense of urgency to discover the answers to its mysteries in the end.

[Pictured: This odd interaction on a desolate West Texas highway leads to a very uncomfortable but compelling story in the film's fictional universe]

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