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Movie Review: Nocturnal Animals (2016), the Artist, Their Work and Revenge

Posted on the 02 February 2017 by Kandee @kandeecanread

Movie Review: Nocturnal Animals (2016), the Artist, their Work and RevengeNocturnal Animals (2016)Starring: Amy Adams, Jake Gyllenhaal, Michael ShannonWritten By: Tom FordDirected By: Tom FordRelease Date: December 9, 2016Rating: B

My Thoughts:Nocturnal Animals is a meticulously beautiful film for many reasons. Tom 
Ford's attention to detail is not only apparent by the mere look of the film 
from its grand opening sequence to the small visual cues throughout the
 film, but it is also apparent in the way he sets up his story. The film is broken
 up into three
 different parts that simultaneously weave in and out one another. 
The first part is set in the present concerning a insomniac, art dealer 
named Susan(Amy Adams) whose rich and fabulous life is takes a turn 
when she receives a book titled, "Nocturnal Animals" dedicated to her by
 her ex-husband, Edward, played by Jake Gyllenhaal. Susan previously cheated 
on Edward and she's currently married to the man she cheated on him with. 
However, she's unhappy and feels as if she's kind of wasted her life. This is a 
majority of the second part of the film. That portion of the film is dedicated
 to exploring Susan and Edward's relationship before everything went to
 shit. Both her and Edward were struggling artists when they were together,
 however, Susan leaned more on the art of other's by working in a gallery
 rather than making her own work, calling herself a realist.
The spectacle of the women dancing in the art instillation towards the 
beginning is just a reminder of her not being an artist. These women 
can shake whatever insecurities they have about themselves to be art, 
but Susan can't shake her own to just make it. Edward, on the other hand,
 is completely himself in his work. He does nothing, but write and write because
 he has such a passion for what he does. It doesn't matter if he gets rejected
 or not because he knows exactly what he wants, regardless of his own 
insecurities about his work. Susan, instead of supporting him, criticizes his 
work and they fight. She's so harsh on Edward because he puts to much
 of himself in is work, but she only says this because this is something she
 can't do. She's too afraid of rejection to put herself into her work and this 
results in her being jealous of Edward, which is why Susan is typically dressed
 in green. And all of these events and more end with the two getting 
divorced and never speaking again.

The second part of the film is Amy's internalized vision of what's going on in the book. 

The book is about a man's journey to get revenge on the men who raped and 
murdered his wife and daughter. Jake Gyllenhaal plays the husband, Tony, in the 
novel along with an eerily similar looking, Ilsa Fisher. Why Susan does
 not play the wife in the tale is simply because we're viewing things from her 
perspective. Edward wrote the book himself and after witnessing the heated
 conversation between the two about how Edward puts too much of himself 
into his work, it's obvious why she would depict Edward as the husband. Now, 
she's not involved with Edward and this isn't quite the story someone 
would want to place themselves into, so she casts another woman in place of 
the wife instead. However, the book isn't just some fanatical story that
 Edward has made up and interestingly enough Susan is multiple characters 
in the novel which is why the book is called Nocturnal Animal(s) in the 
plural context.

This book is literally Edward's revenge. It juxtaposes Edward's revenge 

in reality, (i.e him begin successful and leaving her alone) and his revenge in fiction,
 which I will further go into. Not only does Susan stand in front of a piece of 
work that says 'REVENGE' in big bold lettering, but the book draws blood
 upon Susan opening it, but the book is basically a giant rub in the face.
 Susan never really believed in Edward because of her own insecurities as
 an artist and now, here she isreading his best-selling novel. 
She gave up, but he never did and now Edward is more successful than she is
 and probably happier as well. Susan lives behind her riches and is unhappy because 
of it and now she has to live with that mistake as Edward stands her up at 
dinner, leaving her sitting alone in that little green dress.

 In the book, Tony and his family are on the road and 

when a car full of rednecks causes them to fly off the road. They then take 
his wife, who is the version of Susan he believed he knew, and his daughter
 as he sits there watching because there literally nothing he can do just like 
when he lost the woman he loved and child in his own life. The main redneck,
 played by Aaron-Taylor Johnson, who is possibly the most dangerous of 
them, is also representative of the real Susan, who ends up killing the 
version of Susan (i.e. Isla Fisher) that he thought he knew as well as their child, 
whom Susan kills by getting an abortion. This is also confirmed when
 Aaron-Taylor Johnson calls him weak just like Susan did, but in the end,
 Tony ends up killing the redneck, which represents Susan being dead to
 him. The most interesting part of the novel, however, is the end in 
which Tony accidentally blinds and shoots himself, representing his own
 blindness in seeing the real Susan as well as the ending of life of the man 
he once was. However, another important aspect of the film is about not only
artists and how they create, but the power play that goes behind it. A lot of
 people think that artist's are too into their work and for the most part, like Susan.
 The book's catalyst was Susan and her getting the abortion and leaving him.
 Had she not done those things, he may not have written the book. So, was Susan 
the key into his untapped potential, thus being the one in power? Though 
Edward struggled, it is the artist that comes on top in the end because in 
the end he's successful and he's the one who ends up leaving with the last laugh.

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