'NOCTURNAL ANIMALS' - MORE REVIEWS
WITH MENTIONS OF DE PALMA, HITCHCOCK, SIRK, LYNCH, KUBRICK, PREMINGER, ANTHONY MANN, PECKINPAHTy Burr, Boston Globe
"Does it matter that Susan and Tony’s wife and daughter are all identical-looking redheads? Well, duh. Doublings and mirror images abound in Nocturnal Animals
. Flashbacks and present-day sequences entwine around fictional scenes until Ford has us trapped in a web of guilty complicity. Like Hitchcock, certainly, and it’s no coincidence that Abel Korzeniowski
’s musical score swoons like vintage Bernard Herrmann
(or like Pino Donaggio
’s Herrmannesque scores for Brian De Palma
’s 1970s thrillers).
"Is Tom Ford a dilettante? Honestly, the jury’s still out. He gets committed work from his cast; even if Adams is arguably miscast in a coldhearted role (yes, she can do anything, but that doesn’t mean she should have to), Gyllenhaal expertly toggles between Straw Dogs meekness and madness, and Aaron Taylor-Johnson is the sexiest black hole of irredeemable evil in many a moon. And when Michael Shannon turns up as Bobby Andes, a lethal West Texas police detective, Ford guides the actor to one of his scariest and most controlled performances.
"Yet with Ford — and unlike Hitchcock (and, at his best, De Palma) — the mystery stays on the surface, caught in Seamus McGarvey’s clinically composed camera shots and Joan Sobel’s impeccably disorienting editing. The 'solution,' or the one that’s implied in the film’s final scene, feels small and incommensurate with the dark places the rest of the movie takes us, and it may occur to you that what concerns this filmmaker is the immediate effect rather than the lasting impression. I don’t mean it as a cheap shot, but Nocturnal Animals is very like an exquisitely rendered window display. It’s something at which you pause and peer into and catch your breath — and then move on."
Jesse Cataldo, Slant
"Matching updates of two dynamic variants of mid-century noir (the gonzo woman's pictures of Otto Preminger with the psychological nocturnal westerns of Anthony Mann), Nocturnal Animals gets close to a double-barreled satirical thriller commenting on the historic rift between city and country. But for all his panache, Ford lacks the focus and control of someone like Brian De Palma, whose work, including his recent Passion, routinely straddles such disparate divides. Nocturnal Animals, meanwhile, wastes too much time fulfilling the nuts-and-bolts demands of both of its genre exercises to transcend their limits, while remaining too scattered and routine to actually work as a satisfying example of either.
"The film's best achievement remains its illustration of the supposed lewd, overflowing vitality of the lower classes butting up against the frigid primness of the upper, which then vampirically exploits this divide as part of a ritualistic cultural transfer. This process, by which the rustic, the seedy, and the menacing are drained of residual danger and reimagined in chic aesthetic forms, is one of the trademarks of both the fashion world from which Ford hails the high-end art scene in which Susan operates, the latter seen in that flamboyant opening show and the stylishly shabby pieces that litter her gallery. The film itself carries off a similar act of transference, repackaging grim, nasty authenticity as shiny pop product, even its ugliest revelations sugarcoated within correspondingly gorgeous images.
"Such a combination might have yielded marvelous results were Nocturnal Animals willing to get truly weird, but Ford instead remains too reliant on overwrought imagery, residual prestige affectations, and conventional rhythms to break free of either genre the film experiments with, leaving one section stuck as a second-rate Cormac McCarthy adaptation, the other a tamped-down Fassbinder tribute. Its ultimate message, that the stereotypical façades which front these two worlds only serve to disguise how much they have in common, ends up getting muddled rather than expressively conveyed, leaving Nocturnal Animals as a film that stands tantalizingly close to greatness."
Pete Hammond, Deadline
"It has been seven years since Tom Ford added the job description of film director to his already famous fashion empire. That movie, A Single Man, was rightly acclaimed, and now with Nocturnal Animals he proves it was no fluke. Based on the 1993 novel Tony & Susan by Austin Wright, this adult thriller is a crazy mix of Alfred Hitchcock, David Lynch, Douglas Sirk, Brian De Palma, Stanley Kubrick and even a bit of Sam Peckinpah thrown in for good measure. But overall it is pure Ford, full of stylistic touches and fine acting."
Leah Greenblatt, Entertainment Weekly
"Ford is clearly a cinephile, and elements of other auteurs are all over Animals: the sexmad decadence of Brian De Palma, the formal control of Hitchcock, surreal dabs of David Lynch-ian grotesque. The movie’s lofty narrative ambitions never quite catch up with its aesthetics, but it’s still a fantastic beast of a film, intoxicating and strange."
Nocturnal Animals and Body Double