Nocturnal Animals

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I debated turning this film off during the opening credits. I’m not sure about the symbolism behind naked, morbidly obese people flailing around…. but it is a serious deterrent. Maybe that is the point.

Anyways. Nocturnal Animals is wonderfully composed. The cinematography is dark and stunning. The musical score is sweeping and moving and hits the right notes at the right time.

Amy Adams, Jake Gyllenhaal, and Michael Shannon gave excellent performances. I especially enjoyed Shannon’s portrayal of Bobby – the tough, no-nonsense Texas sheriff. The man’s man.

Which leads me to my next point. The plot of this film is intricate and complex and there are many layers and themes all happening at the same time. I really enjoyed it. I enjoyed the exploration of what makes a man, and the revelation that not all men have to be tough. Not everyone is a Bobby Andes.

Also explored was the idea of expectations, and how that shapes a person. Susan’s (Amy Adams) mother expected certain things of her, which Susan initially rebelled against. When Edward (Jake Gyllenhaal) didn’t meet Susan’s expectations, she immediately transformed into what her mother expected her to be.

Under all those layers and themes, Nocturnal Animals is a film about revenge. Plain old, literally-painted-on-the-wall revenge. Tony (Jake Gyllenhaal) got revenge against the trio that raped and killed his wife. Edward got revenge against Susan, who robbed him of a marriage and a child.

Nocturnal Animals is dark, brooding, and unhappy. Certainly not for everyone, but certainly worth a contemplative viewing.

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