Thursday, December 15, 2016

Nocturnal Animals [2016]

MPAA (R)  CNS/USCCB () (3 1/2 Stars)  AVClub (B)  Fr. Dennis (4 Stars)

IMDb listing
CNS/USCCB () review
Los Angeles Times (J. Chang) review (G. Kenny) review
AVClub (I. Vishnevetsky) review

Nocturnal Animals [2016] (screenplay and directed by Tom Ford based on the novel Tony and Susan (1993) [GR] [WCat] [Amzn] by Austin Wright [wikip] [GR] [WCat] [Amzn] [IMDb]) is an extremely well written / well acted, R-appropriate thriller about a bored and unhappy middle-aged Los Angeles art dealer named Susan Morrow (played quite magnificently by Amy Adams) who is, one day, blithely surprised to get a manuscript for a novel in the last stages before being published from her first husband Edward (played by Jake Gyllenhaal) who she had left and not heard from for nearly 20 years.  Enclosed is a small card from said first husband, and turning to the first page of the manuscript, she finds that the book is dedicated to her ...

The novel, quite shockingly violent, about a random "Texas suburban folk" family in a several-years old Mercedes who find themselves harassed, stopped and, of course, worse ... by a trio of drunk / crazed rednecks in a beat-up rednecky muscle car on a lonely stretch of an interstate somewhere amidst the parched / dry land and tumbleweeds of West Texas one fateful evening, DOESN'T DIRECTLY CORRESPOND to Susan / Edward's "past history" together, BUT ... riveted, in a dread-ful(l) sort of way, Susan can't bring herself to put the manuscript down.

And as she reads said, awful(ly) violent, yet as utterly riveting as "a car-wreck on the highway" of a novel, we Viewers are treated to the interplay of three stories -- (1) that of Susan's current dreadfully boring and perhaps "PAST her prime" life where Susan's primary concern seemed to have been reduced to finding a way (if she felt there was a point...) to confront her still "quite-the-looker" salt-and-pepper-haired, the occasional wrinkle actually _enhancing_ the attractiveness of his smile, "Richard Gere" of a second husband named "Hutton" (played by Armie Hammer) on his more-or-less obvious infidelities towards her, (2) a recollection of the circumstances of how Susan and Edward, her _only now_ about to be published, 20-years-after-she had left him "aspiring novelist" of a first husband had met ... and eventually broke-up (again, it was she who had left him...), and (3) the story of this terribly violent nightmare of a novel.

Call it A SPIKE _driven_ into the Subconscious of a late-40 year old, this is _not_ a pretty story. Indeed, from the very first scene, it is a _quite ugly_ one.  But it is IMHO one _well written_ and _well acted_ piece.

NOT for ANYONE under 30, it's still one heck of a story.

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