Nocturnal Animals (2016)

nocturnal-animals-2016-movie-poster(I’m on vacation right now celebrating my 30th Birthday! To fill the void whilst I’m away I’m posting some old movie reviews that I wrote for the blog I had before I started Often Off Topic. I’ll be back in early September.)

I don’t remember ever going into the cinema as blind as I did last week for Nocturnal Animals. I’d heard a lot of buzz surrounding the name, I’d watched the trailer (once) which didn’t give much away at all, and I knew Jake Gyllenhaal was in it. That was enough for me, and I somehow convinced my husband to come along too. I don’t know how I did it, but I have a feeling it may have been something to do with the ever beautiful Amy Adams.

Before I go into an actual review, I have to share a funny moment with you. Tuesday and Wednesday showings have a silly amount of adverts before the movie, because of the wildly popular ‘Meerkat Movies’ 2-4-1 deal. This poor couple in front of us were already there when we arrived, sat through the whole slog of ads, the 5 trailers (although we were shown the Arrival trailer twice in a row, odd) and when the BBFC rating screen came on with ‘Nocturnal Animals’ emblazoned on the left-hand side, they realised they were in the wrong screen. I hope they didn’t miss too much of Doctor Strange, because that opening scene was awesome.

Anyway! Nocturnal Animals is a dark movie split into two narratives. First, we have Susan (Amy Adams), an art gallery owner living a seemingly-perfect life in her mansion of a house adorned with staff, and a husband who sadly, is hardly ever at home. One morning she receives a parcel from her ex-husband Edward (Jake Gyllenhaal), a manuscript for a book he’s written that he wants her thoughts on. The book turns out to be dedicated to Susan, but is a dark and twisted story, which haunts her.

Whenever Susan starts reading the book, we get to see it played out, by Jake Gyllenhaal himself and his book-wife (Isla Fisher). Their story isn’t for the faint-hearted, it’s a cruel and violent tale. Some scenes are particularly difficult to watch, and I get the feeling they were deliberately made as long as possible to make the audience uncomfortable. If that is the case, it definitely worked on me. I kept thinking to myself ‘Oh that won’t actually happen though, they wouldn’t show us that’ and then they did! I’m getting the shivers just thinking about it.

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So, whilst we see Edward’s story played out in snippets, we also go back to Susan often to learn more about her, and more importantly, what happened all those years ago between her and Edward. There’s a theme of revenge here for sure, and we know that Susan left him, but not why, or under what circumstances. It’s really well edited in these sections, the way something happens in the book that then takes us back to real life, and editing isn’t something that I normally take notice of.

Of course, I won’t give anything away, but I love an ambiguous ending. One that’s satisfying enough when taken at face value, but when you start to analyse every little detail, you begin to come up with different theories about certain elements.

I really loved this movie, but I will NOT forgive that jump scare. You can witness it for yourself, I’m not going to warn you, but it scared the crap out of the entire screen. Then I had to watch the next ten minutes from the corner of my eye in case something else happens. My poor nervous wreck of a husband now labels Nocturnal Animals as ‘that piece of sh*t movie that scared me’. He liked it of course, but he’s a bigger scaredy-cat than me!

So yes, a big seal of approval from me. Just…skip the opening credits if you can…trust me.

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The Neon Demon (2016)

the-neon-demon-2016-movie-posterDirector: Nicolas Winding Refn

Genre: Horror, Thriller

Runtime: 118 Minutes

Main Cast: Elle Fanning, Karl Glusman, Jena Malone, Bella Heathcote, Abbey Lee, Desmond Harrington, Christina Hendricks, Keanu Reeves, Charles Baker

Plot: Jesse, a young girl who has just turned 16, moves to Los Angeles with dreams of becoming a model. Her youth and natural beauty generate jealousy to an extreme extent within the fashion industry, putting Jesse in grave danger.

My Thoughts: Second movie from my watch list crossed off! The Neon Demon was on the list for one reason alone – the polarizing reviews it has. Everyone either loves it or hates it and I was dying to know why, and which camp I was going to fall into.

For quite a while, I was absolutely digging the movie. Sure, I didn’t really understand all the arty farty parts but they were pretty to watch at least. I really felt for Jesse, I wanted her to succeed and I wanted to protect her. Then there was the whole scene with the leopard/panther/whatever it was inside her motel room. I thought ok, maybe that’s just a metaphor for something that I haven’t worked out yet, I’m still enjoying this movie.

From there it just went into major WTF mode. Just…I don’t even know. I don’t want to spoil it for anyone who hasn’t seen it so I won’t go into details, and to be honest I’m not sure how I would describe the rest of the movie anyway. I get that it’s definitely a dig at how awful the fashion model industry is, but it goes so much further than that. It was odd, it was creepy, and I wasn’t a fan at all by the end of it.

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Best Bit: Jesse’s response to one of the girls saying how her surgeon calls her ‘The Bionic Woman’ after all the work she’s had done. “Is that a compliment?”. I actually laughed out loud at that!

Worst Bit: If I say…Jena Malone. In the morgue. With a corpse. Not doing any makeup…but still having a good time. Do you know which bit I mean, if you’ve seen the movie? One of the creepiest things I’ve ever watched.

Fun Trivia: The film was shot in chronological order, and the ending was created and improvised on-set, according to Elle Fanning.

My Rating: 1 and a half eyeballs out of 5. Ugh…

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