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Nocturnal Animals [2016]: Reality meets Fiction

Nocturnal Animals looks beautiful from the outside. It has bright colors, beautiful sets, good looking actors, visually attractive cinematography but when we get into the core, it's dark, cruel and extremely ugly.

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“Enjoy the absurdity of our World”

Nocturnal Animals is the second film of designer cum director Tom Ford after his fantastic 2009 drama, A Single Man. It starts in the weirdest way possible as some naked over-weighted women dance in front of a bright red background which appears like a stage.  I’m still unsure about the significance of the whole scene and why it looked so disturbing or weird. Is it because they’re obese or unashamedly naked? Both only implies our own perception towards the stellar sequence directed by Tom Ford.


From the initial moment when these women stepped on stage, we were quite sure it’s not real as they were happily dancing. Now have you ever seen an over-weighted woman grooving un-apologetically without thinking about who’s looking at her? By the time the scene closes, we come to know that the entire thing was nothing but a mere art exhibit. So, in conclusion, is art all about showcasing the unreal things in a weird manner?

Here we meet Susan…The complete charade turns out to be her art work and from here on we follow her footsteps into her world.

Nocturnal Animals tells two stories. One based on the real world and the other is a fiction. The film within a film concept is nothing new but Tom Ford’s take on this style here is utterly scrumptious. In the real world, the protagonist is Susan, married to a good looking wealthy man who doesn’t have time for his own wife and her work. Susan’s world is nothing different to the world of many rich people we know which shines from the outside but actually is dark and lonely from the inside. She gets a manuscript from her ex-husband of his latest novel which he named ‘Nocturnal Animals’ and has dedicated to Susan who is suffering from insomnia.

Through that, novel we get into the factitious world of Tony who was on a road trip with his wife and daughter and gets into trouble with three local guys. The novel is violent, deeply engrossing and more importantly about a weak man who seeks revenge. Why is this more important? Well, maybe because it digs Susan’s history with his ex husband who believed that ‘nobody writes about anything but themselves‘. So is it really a fiction or just a different kind of version of something horrible from their past?

Coming to the performances… Amy Adams has given yet another sensational performance here. Her eyes expressed a lot more than her dialogues did. But it was Jake Gyllenhaal as both Edward and Tony who made the film for me. Jake played the both characters with perfection. Actually it’s the screenplay that makes Tony/Edward superior to Susan in many ways. As the film goes on, we came to realize that it’s only about hurting Susan more and more in the name of revenge in a way that looks sweet but actually the ugliest. Except the character of Andes played brilliantly by Michael Shannon, no other character is as noticeable as the two leads.

Nocturnal Animals looks beautiful from the outside. It has bright colors, beautiful sets, good looking actors, visually attractive cinematography but when we get into the core, it’s dark, cruel and extremely ugly. The climax is as weird as the first sequence, but it helps you to remember the film which in my opinion was absolutely the right thing to do.

Tom Ford’s writing is powerful as well as his direction. The film is so beautifully composed and written that it reminds you of both classic Hitchcockian thrillers and Refn’s dynamic visuals. It’s a film that stays with you long after the credits and lures you to watch it once more.

★★½

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