I don’t really know where to start with Nocturnal Animals. I just have a lot of feelings about it and none of them are all that positive! I went into this film intrigued by the plot summary provided by the Google Play Store and I came out so thoroughly disappointed. I hadn’t (and still haven’t) seen his other film A Single Man (2009), but I really don’t think I’m that excited to ever see it.
Nocturnal Animals is a very stylish film, but really, I feel like that’s where the compliments end. It was all style and so little substance? The story-within-the-story was more interesting than the overall story and even then, I don’t think it was enough to pull its own weight… as in, I don’t think it could have stood on its own. I think that, more than anything, I was expecting a thriller and what I got was… a bore. It was only 2 hours long, but it felt like 4. That’s never a good sign. I was left saying, “Thank god that’s over,” and feeling a wave of relief combined with absolute bafflement at the ending, or lack thereof. It felt like Tom Ford was like, “I really don’t have any idea how to end this film… so I won’t.” And then he subsequently does not. You spend the whole time waiting for some kind of ultimate pay-off after this pretentious, gruelling two-hour spectacle only to be letdown. SPOILER ALERT: Amy Adams gets stood up. That’s her ex-husband’s big revenge. That’s the big finale. The Big Finish.
Even with A+ performances from Amy Adams, Jake Gyllenhaal, Michael Shannon and Aaron Taylor-Johnson (etc. but those were the ones that stood out the most for me), it’s just not enough. It leaves you feeling like you’ve just watched some film student’s incomplete project. I just felt depressed.
Most of the reviews I have glanced over have mentioned something about it being a film that “makes you think,” but all it made me think was that I should have spent the last 2 hours of my life watching something more enjoyable. Like paint drying, perhaps, or maybe grass growing.
I mean, maybe there’s something I’m totally missing, but I can see where it was trying to go: fantasy revenge is awesome, reality revenge is chickening out and being totally petty; “You killed my child so I’m going to write a book about how your actions totally wounded me…” But it just fell so flat for me. It’s definitely not something I’d go so far as to recommend or to watch again, and I certainly won’t be adding it to my collection.