Keeping up the celebration of Michael Shannon performances from my last post, Nocturnal Animals is a film that garnered him an Academy Award nomination for Best Supporting Actor this year, his second in the category after 2008’s Revolutionary Road. His performance is stellar in this film, along with almost every other aspect.
Tom Ford’s sophomore effort is a brilliant showcase of his ability to create emotion and visual pleasure. The fashion designer-turned-filmmaker directs Jake Gyllenhaal and Amy Adams as they lead an amazing cast, including Shannon and Aaron Taylor-Johnson in a beautifully gripping story about heartbreak, fear, and suspense that keeps the audience engaged throughout its entirety. Adams plays an artist who, after her gallery opening, receives a manuscript for a novel written by her ex-husband, played by Gyllenhaal, which he dedicates to her. The film follows her reading his novel, visualizes the world of the novel, and includes flashbacks and memories chronicling the progression and decline of the relationship between Adams and Gyllenhaal. The lines get blurred between what is reality and what is fiction as the story of the novel and the story of Adams’ life are effectively edited together.
The story is highly involved, and I truly believe that the narrative would have suffered in the hands of a less competent filmmaker and cast. The parallel stories of the film, between the “origin world” where Adams’ receives the manuscript, the world of the novel itself, and the flashbacks of Adam’s and Gyllenhaal’s relationship, come together to create a fantastic piece of cinema. The cast, cinematography and editing are top notch, and in my opinion, Nocturnal Animals should have gotten more attention from the Academy.
Nocturnal Animals is out on Blu-ray, DVD and digital. Here is the trailer.
-By Kirk Yoshonis