The Film (3.5/5)
Nocturnal Animals follows Susan (Amy Adams) an art gallery owner who receives the manuscript of a novel from her ex-husband, Edward (Jake Gyllenhall), on a lonely weekend night while her current husband is away on business, though she suspects the reasons for his trip are also extramarital. As she reads the book, she becomes involved in the story of a man who finds himself and his family attacked by criminals in rural West Texas. And the aftermath which includes the investigation of the murder of the man’s wife and daughter, and subsequent revenge for their deaths. While Susan reads the book, which is dedicated to her, she flashes back to her memories of Edward, their relationship, how it began, and how it fell apart, and of course now with this fiery literary work in her hands, how she is reflecting on what she has done to him, and is coming to regret her current position.
Nocturnal Animals in a sense could be called Portrait of an Artist Seeking Revenge Through Art. Many writers and artists have taken the anger of their daily lives out into their work, and never has it been better depicted on the cinema screen than it does here in Nocturnal Animals. Yet, I felt when watching it I felt the delivery was a bit heavy-handed. As if Susan's response to the art was exactly what Edward would have wanted from it, rather then a handful of other reactions she could have had at the not-so-subtle jabbing she received from Edward. Regardless, I feel there is something truly interesting in the film, and it will need some additional viewings to truly open up.
Ford shoots the film with a crisp detached frame. Everything looks quite solid, and well composed, almost Kubrickian at times. Performances from Adams and Gyllenhaal are pitch perfect, with Adams occasionally falling into the Lynchian mode of detached performances, which works well for the atmosphere of the part of the film she is carrying. The more neo-western stuff that Gyllenhaal dominates feels like a dirty-update of some of Sam Peckinpah's 60's material, and I found myself really enjoying the ride during that portion. The imagery in both halves of the film is quite memorable, and shows a director with a solid eye for composition so early in his career. I've rated it a 3.5 on initial viewing, but I feel the film is complex enough to offer a higher score after seeing it more times over the years, and I certainly recommend seeking it out.
Universal presents Tom Ford's Nocturnal Animals in a 2:42:1 1080p AVC encoded transfer. Counter to most modern studio productions Nocturnal Animals was shot on film. The Blu-ray looks fantastic, blacks are deep, colors are natural, and well reproduced, and detail is excellent throughout.
Audio is handled by a DTS-HD MA 5.1 track in English. The track is quite excellent with dialogue and score coming through clearly, and no issues to report.
Universal gives the film about 12 minutes of BTS/Making of material. I feel like this film deserved more. A Tom Ford commentary track? Come on.
Nocturnal Animals is quite the interesting 2nd feature from Tom Ford, and is absolutely not what I expected. The Blu-ray looks and sounds incredible, and has a small slate of extras. RECOMMENDED.