For Reel


Nocturnal Animals (2016)
December 31, 2016, 6:37 pm
Filed under: Reviews | Tags: , ,

Director: Tom Ford
4.5 Stars
nocturnal-animalsNoctural Animals is a film that asks the audience to consider the importance of authorship in its every frame. When gallerist Susan Morrow (Amy Adams) receives a proof of her ex-husband’s new novel (Jake Gyllenhaal) that is fixed with a dedication to her, she becomes haunted by the thriller’s grisly content. What has driven him to tell such a story? Similarly, in the film’s resistance to revealing anything about the present-day author (their relationship is only seen in flashbacks), the audience of the film is asked to attempt a psychoanalysis of the mental state of the author—surely a man who writes something so viscerally disturbing must somehow match that level of filth in his character. The exciting thing about Noctural Animals is that, while it revels in the pulp melodrama that makes up the desert-set murder plot, it directly asks the audience to look beyond the genre conventions it is exploiting. That is, the violent displays of machismo are fueled by the audience’s understanding that the author of the work is challenging the supposed “weakness” he was branded with in the relationship. That a supreme stylist like Tom Ford chose a narrative in which one of the film’s key functions is to ask the audience to look beyond the surface is a humorous, mild bit of transgression. If psychoanalytical film theory can often be unproductive in the discussion of a film, Ford approaches the idea head-on, begging audiences to see the hurt in an author who writes a work of horrifying fiction. As a result, the audience feels a small victory in the film’s concluding moments, which informs much of one’s character motivations by saying nothing at all, opening up the conversation regarding an artist’s drive even further.

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