‘Nocturnal Animals’ Review: Tom Ford’s Sophomore Film Is Both Bizarre And Beautiful

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Amy Adams is spectacular in this high-class dramatic thriller

Rich people can be obnoxious. This is just but one of Tom Ford’s commentary on high-class living. His argument seems pretty relevant as he has seen these behaviors first class working in the fashion world. A lot of pretty faces and luxurious settings bombard Nocturnal Animals and yet Ford meticulously shows the sadness and superficiality, something rich people try to hide.

A sad Susan (Amy Adams) is seen unimpressed by the art surrounding her, standing alone with dead obese women shown on platforms. This is just one of Susan’s art exhibits. But why is she so sad? Her husband (Armie Hammer) didn’t come to her art show. Wanting to confront him at home, something catches her mind as she comes home – a package is waiting for her. This mysterious package is revealed to be a draft of her ex-husband, Edward (Jake Gyllenhaal). The draft of a novel dedicated to her.

The novel’s story is of dark, sad and violent nature, not the content one would want to be associated with. Though, the story reveals something closer to home, Susan’s relationship with Edward. As she reads through the pages, Susan can only think about her memories with Edward and how it eventually went all wrong.

On the surface, it seems like a boring story, but it’s elevated with a great script. Going back from a novel to reality is in fact, Nocturnal Animals‘ greatest strength. Not one story is superior to the other. Instead, both stories offer a fascinating look into each character without being overly intolerable. The novel story helps the audience get an interesting look into Jake Gyllenhaal’s character which is only seen in a couple real life shots. A bold choice that is rewarded more than once.

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Ford beautifully captures the essences of egotism and superficiality

Tom Ford plays each right cards, and the biggest most audacious card is played at the very end where he leaves it to the audience to decide just how much both stories mirror themselves. On the one hand, Ford shows an incredibly violent and gritty Texas story perfectly contrasting the wealthy and fancy lifestyle Susan inhabits. Proving that this isn’t just another “sad rich people” story. Her life, filled with beautiful dresses and decadent parties, paints a portrait of why her character seems so sad. But in the end, it’s the actions and the depth of the relationship that pulls the story to its own.

Playing with similar themes to the ones in The Neon Demon, an apparent similarity between both Nicolas Winding Refn and Tom Ford emerges. Not only is Karl Glusman and Jena Melone in both film but the aesthetic of Nocturnal Animals fair strikingly similar to Refn’s. Although, enough effort is made to differentiate both films, this is sure to come up in the minds of people who have seen both films.

Helping out with the movie’s excellent story are the incredible performances across the board. Adams’s sad eyes leave just enough room to see her broken soul. Same goes to Gyllenhaal as he shines as a sensitive author. However, easily the favourite is Michael Shannon’s depiction of a Texas sheriff.

Proving once again that his eye for fashion translates well to film, Ford’s scrupulous nature and vibrant visuals take centerpiece. Made with high precision and attention to detail, Nocturnal Animals is the biggest gamble of the year. In a movie where nothing should cinematically work, almost everything does.

GRADE: A

‘Arrival’ Review: Amy Adams Shines In This Complex Cerebral Sci-Fi Masterpiece

Denis Villeneuve has created his most intelligent movie yet

There are so many things right in Denis Villeneuve’s latest directorial masterpiece. From Bradford Young’s crisp cinematography to Johann Johannsson’s minimalist score, Arrival is probably this year’s best movie. It will likely spawn comparison to Christopher Nolan’s Interstellar as they both deal with complex philosophical concepts and life beyond Earth. While the comparison is earned, Arrival is smarter and better executed than Interstellar.

Dr. Louise Banks (Amy Adams) is one of the best linguists in the world. When aliens have landed in 12 distinct places on Earth, the military calls upon Louise to translate the alien’s foreign language. They speak by releasing black smoke that creates weird circular symbols. Those symbols represent an intricate language that humans need to understand in order to ask the pivotal question – “What is your purpose on Earth?”

With the help Dr. Ian Donnelly (Jeremy Renner), Louise must find out if their otherworldly friends may actually be foes. Louise knows more than anybody else that language is the key to understanding a group of people and she may not be ready for the consequences this knowledge brings to her.

Again, Villeneuve continues to create visually stunning films. The long wide shots of the alien pods and the interaction with the aliens capture some of the most beautiful cinematography this year. Using symbolic language helps add to the movie’s already incredible visuals. The aliens themselves, covered in white smoke, are elegant even if they are not ascetically attractive.

 

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Amy Adams gives an incredible performance as an intelligent linguist

Amy Adams give one of her best performance as the gifted linguist. Her story is emotional and powerful. Adams convey every emotion and help paint a strong female character. Her character is always one step ahead of everyone including the audience. She establishes that she is, in fact, the best linguist for the job.

Just as smart of Adam’s character is the incredibly complex story. Sci-fi is always a difficult genre to execute. Usually dealing with complex philosophical ideas and theories, Arrival is not different. Villeneuve tackles the Sapir-Whorf hypothesis, which is the idea that learning a foreign language rewires your brain. Along with the theories of time and dimensions, these big ideas get executed to almost perfection. The puzzle this movie assembles gets every piece to fit together

Villeneuve never gets scared of Arrival’s big ambitions. He takes the necessary time to tell his story both visually and verbally. The pace may get tiresome for mainstream viewers, but for fans who enjoy great cinematography, you will not get bored.

Arrival is ambitious, and while sometimes that ambition can be a movie’s downfall, it is its biggest strength. It draws upon complex ideas and nails every one of them. Amy Adam, cinematographer Bradford Young and composer Jóhann Jóhannsson all add to propel the movie to success. The team has made a film that they can all be proud of because not many of this sorts of movies can say that they nailed every ambition.

REVIEW: A+