Here's a look at the new movie I saw this week.
Starring: Amy Adams, Jake Gyllenhaal, Michael Shannon, and Aaron Taylor-Johnson
Synopsis: Cinema, as an art form, can do a lot of different things. For many independent films, you have a blank slate to create a rich world. This includes everything from the look and feel, to the stories and characters. Tom Ford is a famed fashion designer that has turned to plying his creative eye to film. In 2009 he delivered the critically acclaimed film “A Single Man,” which saw Colin Firth nominated for Best Actor. It’s been seven years since that film was released, and now Ford is back with another beautiful, haunting and challenging film in “Nocturnal Animals.” The film — based on a screenplay from Ford and a novel from Austin Wright — is a curious film. It’s full of complex characters and a complex narrative that moves through the past, fiction and the present fluidly. But what ties it together is a serious and beautiful film style and captures your attention and pulls you in. It’s fair to say nothing in cinema this year is like “Nocturnal Animals.” The visual style is incredible and the performances are rich, while the story is beyond strange. That can be off-putting for some. The opening credit sequence of this film alone is memorable in a way that could make or break some interest in the film. In fact, if you favor clear cut and straight forward narratives, this movie isn’t for you. Which isn’t to say that “Nocturnal Animals” is without merit. It’s fascinating and a masterfully constructed film. It’s haunting in a way that sticks with you long after the screen ends, in both positive and negative ways. And it’s clear that much like with “A Single Man,” a film I didn’t personally enjoy, Ford made the movie he wanted to make the way he wanted to make it. That is a victory for film as an art form. This film is an expression of themes and styles that were moving to Ford. Every frame has meaning and purpose, and that helps give it power. But this is decidedly not your typical film. The story is open-ended and finishes in a place that won’t necessarily satisfy American audiences’ desire for resolution. It’s also a film that bounces around so much in its storytelling that some may wonder what the point was. But for those who can sink into the narrative, you’re left with something that goes to unexpected places. That’s a credit to Ford. It’s also the reason he earned a Golden Globe nomination for best screenplay and best director. It’s also a credit to the performances. Adams, Gyllenhaal, Shannon and Taylor-Johnson — who earned a Golden Globe nomination — all give incredible performances. The story is strange and haunting, and it’s the performances that pull you in and keep you hooked. Adams is fantastic, as is Gyllenhaal in a duel role. Shannon gives a layered and fascinating performance, while Taylor-Johnson sinks into a very different kind of role for him. All are great and make the film interesting. If you’re looking for something traditional, “Nocturnal Animals” isn’t it. If you’re looking for a different, artistic film experience, this is the kind of film that gives you plenty to chew on.
Rating: R for violence, menace, graphic nudity, and language. Enter with caution.
Verdict: Three stars out of four.
Friday, December 16: "Rogue One: A Star Wars Story," "La La Land," "Collateral Beauty"
Wednesday, December 21: "Passengers," "Sing," "Assassins Creed"
Friday, December 23: "Why Him?"
Sunday, December 25: "Fences"