A successful investment banker struggles after losing his wife in a tragic car crash. With the help of a customer service rep and her young son, he starts to rebuild, beginning with the demolition of the life he once knew.
While waiting for their big breaks, two proper L.A. dreamers, a suavely- charming, soft-spoken jazz pianist and a brilliant, vivacious playwright, attempt to reconcile aspirations and relationship in a magical old-school romance.
WWII American Army Medic Desmond T. Doss, who served during the Battle of Okinawa, refuses to kill people, and becomes the first man in American history to receive the Medal of Honor without firing a shot.
Following the assassination of President John F. Kennedy, First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy fights through grief and trauma to regain her faith, console her children, and define her husband's historic legacy.
A "story inside a story," in which the first part follows a woman named Susan who receives a book manuscript from her ex-husband, a man whom she left 20 years earlier, asking for her opinion. The second element follows the actual manuscript, called "Nocturnal Animals," which revolves around a man whose family vacation turns violent and deadly. It also continues to follow the story of Susan, who finds herself recalling her first marriage and confronting some dark truths about herself.
That's some terrifying stuff right there! Fashion designer Tom Ford has written and directed his second movie, a multifaceted revenge thriller which is even better than his first, 2009's "A Single Man".
Both are visually stylish, of course, which is expected from fashion guru, both have interesting premise and good actors, and both have this cold, unsettling atmosphere which tries to keep the viewer at some distance.
In short, Ford has managed to take everything good from his solid debut project and bring it to the next level with "Nocturnal Animals". It's more lively, gripping, effortlessly cool and deeper.
There are two stories, interwined in a way which may make viewers wonder whether it's real or imagined by the character. But it is ambiguous in a best possible way, not trying to f--k with our minds and then leave us hanging.
An unhappily married woman (Amy Adams) thinks she wants his first husband (Jake Gyllenhaal) back. And she reads his novel, a violent thriller, which seems like a revenge tale. And then things get more, er, complex.
On-screen events are exciting already but Ford the writer turns out surprisingly skillful at making it even varied, without getting stuck or losing steam, or letting us think that we know where all this ends up. He even playfully takes jabs at his main fashion job and the lifestyle and personal sacrifices that come with it.
And the whole result really makes you feel something for the characters, unlike many of the thrillers that only manage to arouse the viewer during their best bits.
It's not mostly about Adams and Gyllenhaal. There is a number of smaller but important characters and cool performances. We have Michael Shannon, Aaron Taylor-Johnson, Isla Fisher, Armie Hammer, Michael Sheen, Laura Linney.
The cast is good enough reason to watch it. Everybody adds something worthwhile to the experience, even Sheen and Fisher and especially Linney who all have rather small roles used to move the story along.
Shannon brings his usual magnetic mix of cool and creepy. Gyllenhaal manages to move between having balls and ball-less state without turning unbelievable or too heroic. Taylor-Johnson as the bad guy even got a Golden Globe for his work (the only one for the movie although Tom Ford got nominated for both best movie / drama and adapted screenplay). He really deserves it, he is evil at its most subtle and delicious. Delicious to watch, I mean.
But I am especially happy about Amy Adams who is often used in the movies as just a pretty face or supporting woman. In 2016, she has had two strong roles, in a thinking man's sci-fi "Arrival", and now this.
Her screen time may be limited but she surely makes the most of it, captivatingly playing out both worlds that the character has hiding inside her. I believed her both as a lively young woman and the jaded older one that's missing all the ideals that she had decided to throw away long time ago.
Based on a novel by Austin Wright which Ford wanted to adapt into two movies initially, one true to original, the other not so much. I am not sure which way he chose ultimately but what a ride, eh?
PS No, I am not giving 9 out of 10 to every movie I watch from now on. The last three have been just some of 2016's best of the best.
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