“Film Director”, Tom Ford (seriously, this can’t be his real name) once said: “I had a tiny bit of fashion training, but not really. I had no formal training as a film director either.”
Old Sport, I think it is time you enroll yourself in some film classes because you have no idea what in the hell you are doing.
Maybe I know nothing about movies. Maybe my film degree should be burned because it means nothing. Maybe I should have my head examined. “Film Critics” gave this thing rave reviews. It was purchased for $20 million dollars, the highest amount ever paid at Cannes. This 116-minute pile of wasted 35mm film has a 8.0 rating on IMDB. Yet, I stand behind my opinion: Nocturnal Animals was an absolute waste and should have died on the cutting floor.
The film starts at an art gallery opening. The first image we see is obese naked ladies swaying across the screen with sparklers and patriotic sashes. This continues for several minutes. Initially unnerving, yet I couldn’t look away. I rubbed my hands together and thought: Yesssssssssssss! Let’s do this…let’s get weird. Mr. Ford-come in with the weird, come in with the weird. No. Instead Thomas decided it would be best for the audience to spend the next hour and half having Amy Adams read us a trashy summer read that never seems to find its focal point.
Amy Adams plays Susan Morrow, a high-end art gallery owner living in Los Angeles. Of course, she has a huge home that only has 2 people living in it. A luxury vehicle. Piles of fancy STUFF. Oh yea, a cheating husband too. Anddddd we should feel horribly sad for her, cause her life sucks, she never sleeps (a nocturnal animal…oh my!) and now her ex-husband just wrote a violent thriller that she believes without a doubt is ALL ABOUT HER.
So, you know those novels you schlep to the beach every summer commonly referred to as “page turners”. This is the book Susan Morrow’s ex-husband (Jake Gyllenhal) has written. HIS FIRST NOVEL. After twenty years of not speaking to her ex, his novel finds itself magically on her door step with a request for her review. Susan has so many questions: Why is he sending this to her? Why does he want her opinion? The whole situation is just so haunting, she gets a damn papercut!
Unfortunately, the papercut doesn’t stop her. She is going to read this thing to us and not a cut, tears, fear, or lack of sleep is going to stop her. Lucky us. A story within the story (aka a movie a film student would make), how absolutely creative (zzzzzzzzz). To no surprise to anyone, Susan is convinced this book is about her. Cause, hey why not? Of course, her ex imagines her in horrifying situations, you know like getting run off the road by rednecks and tortured. Cause, hey that is what all exes do, right?
We spend the next hour or so flipping back n’ forth between the “real world” and the novel, cementing my opinion that Mr. Ford is indeed a hack. The movie cuts to past to present to novel, back to the past then to the novel and whoa look out we are back in the present. Giving you that feeling like you are flipping from HBO to Lifetime to a station prone to showing reality TV. Are you lost yet? Perfect. Jake Gyllenhaal, for some reason was cast to play two roles: the main character in the novel we are watching Amy Adams read and her ex-husband. Why is he in both? If she believes the book is about her, why does she not see herself as one of the characters in the novel too?
Due to violent tone of the novel, Susan loses her shit (cause remember it is ALL about her). The events revealed to us from the past show Susan wasn’t really all that nice. I mean, she started out OK but her “Texan bourgeois” (their word not mine) upbringing simply got the best of her. Believe me, I was confused about the Texan part too, since Susan really didn’t seem to have an accent what so ever. Apparently though, Texan bourgeois is everything you are thinking: her family is republican, racist, sexist, and homophobic. But thankfully, Susan is NOT. In fact, that is how she got twisted up with Jake in the first place. He was everything her family wasn’t, which meant he was open minded, poor, and kind…a romantic. Oh my god, not a romantic! Susan did not like being poor. Who needs romance when you can have MONEY. She was sick of being with a struggling writer so she cheated on him and traded him in for a bunch of STUFF.
Wow. Why didn’t I walk out? I should have…but then there was Michael Shannon. This guy saves films. I’m starting to think he is the fixer of the film industry. When a movie is going south, they call in this guy. He always just kinda shows up at that perfect time to save you from movie HELL. Sadly, he just never seems to get enough screen time. When will it be his turn…to have that starring role he is so rightfully deserves. In Nocturnal Animals, Michael Shannon, plays the Texan lawman, Bobby who is attempting to help Jake solve the devastating crime in the novel that was committed to Jake’s wife and daughter. Shannon, the dude you always want on your side.
Shannon was great, but by the time he shows up this thing is already at the point where you that question just keeps looping in your head: When will this just end already? The only highlight of the film was probably the opening of the novel. This scene was played out extremely well and definitely had me on edge. Maybe someone else directed this part?
Ladies and gents, I’m still confused why Hollywood continues to allow inexperienced men to make films. Mr. Ford has directed only one other movie (A Single Man) yet, he was given the chance to direct another A-list cast while inexperienced women get the shaft. Maybe it is time to give the money to someone else to see what they can do. Take the chance. Give Shannon that starring role and Make. Better. Movies.