Let’s Talk About The Ending Of ‘Nocturnal Animals’ (2016)

*SPOILER ALERT*

 

Nocturnal Animals (2016) is a really interesting film directed by Golden Globe and BAFTA nominated director Tom Ford; it tells the tale of Susan (Amy Adams) receiving a book from ex-husband Edward (Jake Gyllenhaal) which accounts dark and violent themes which makes Susan re-evaluate her life and relationships.

It’s not a perfect film but there’s a lot I admire and respect about it. I loved seeing Amy Adams in this kind of role; she wasn’t playing a likeable character or a character finding redemption but who is living in the shadows of her regrettable actions. Another thing I admired (and had to watch again to fully understand) was how Edward’s book mirrored his relationship with Susan.

Whilst not being perfect, Nocturnal Animals still captivated me by the elegant visuals and music and the hopefulness of seeing resolve and a satisfying conclusion. However the film ends abruptly and you feel like you’ve been lured in by the film only to be dropped suddenly with no warning. At first I was frustrated which evolved into perceiving the ending as a genius move; it shows the power of the film to have an audience feel so invested and immersed in the experience.

Remove The Armour

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Sometimes the best moments are found in the most subtle moments. Over the course of the film Susan has been depicted as unhappy and full of regret, yet she is a successful art gallery owner and she feels some guilt of not feeling happy about her success. She has become a different person from the Susan that we were introduced to in the flashbacks telling the story of the early years of her relationship with Edward. One could argue that in order to mask the hurt and unhappiness from her actions in life she puts on a front looking like she has it all together.

Then there’s a great moment where she removes her lipstick, and a brief smile follows. That simple action was like she was removing the armour that she has been wearing ever since the colossal downfall of her marriage with Edward. It could be argued that she’s hoping to find happiness again by removing her wedding ring and hoping that by reconnecting with him the wrongs of her past can be rectified.

It’s a powerful shot, a dark room with only Susan’s reflection in the mirror to show. Amy Adams can do so much with no words, it’s all in the facial expressions and the lingering shots that convey how she is thinking the evening will go. Will she recapture who she was before and will she learn from her mistakes if she gets a second chance?

The Wait

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This is the moment we’ve all been waiting for: seeing Edward in present day meet up with Susan. After everything that has happened what would they say to each other? The anticipation was high and personally I was intrigued to see how they would act around each other.

Susan rocks up to the most fancy restaurant and is seated at her table, she looks to the door excited to see Edward walk through the door and reconnect. This scene is laid out to be an expected conversational scene, potentially reflecting an earlier scene when they met up for the first time in a restaurant. There’s even a moment where we hear the waitress welcome a gentlemen whilst focusing on Susan’s face, we even hear footsteps only to be let down by finding out it wasn’t Edward. Both the audience and Susan had their hopes built up only to be let down.

Alas, hope fades and reality kicks in as time passes and Edward is nowhere to be seen. From the melted ice in her drink to the fading of her smile to the striking of her bare finger where she removed her wedding ring, Susan detects that this meet up isn’t going to plan.

There Are No Words

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The music by Abel Korzeniowski only amplifies the mood of this scene, starting with some beautiful elegant music which escalates into a more intense sound conveying the rising emotions and tragedy that follows. The heightened sound calms down into the simple sounds of the piano keys, until there is music no more whilst the camera fixates on the heartbroken face of Susan.

The film score perfectly conveys all the emotions that Susan is feeling as no words are spoken. The reason why the music is so elegant and beautiful at the beginning is because there is still hope and an uncertainty of what is to follow, this develops into a more intense sound because there is a worry that there won’t be any resolve for the scene. It’s that scary moment because there may not be a chance of reconciliation, but we can’t give up hope just yet. Then the simple piano key sounds matched with Susan’s distraught face only equates into one thing: She will have to live with the mistakes she has made for the rest of her life. It’s a incredible simple yet powerful moment where the penny has dropped for Susan and she knows there is no turning back and that there’s nothing she can do to make Edward forgive her.

Because there are no spoken words we see Amy Adams give an acting masterclass of saying so much through no dialogue. From her eye glances to her many facial expressions conveying hope, sadness, regret, uncertainty etc. As an audience member you are fixated on her face as you want to try and understand everything that Susan is feeling in that moment. Amy Adams does this perfectly and with the music to support her it all equals to an emotionally powerful and delicate scene.

Bold

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I loved the bold ending of showing Susan to have no redemption in her character arc. You watch the whole film seeing how Susan is living a life of deep regret which prevents her from finding peace and happiness even though on paper she has her life together. I love Amy Adams, she is one of the best actors around and I loved how she played a character who wasn’t meant to be likeable. Amy Adams played a character who not only makes mistakes but will never have the chance to make things right or tragically may not find happiness because our actions have consequences. It’s bold just leaving Susan alone in that restaurant letting everything sink in.

What did you think of the ending? Did you appreciate what Tom Ford was going for or would you like to have had more of a concrete ending. Feel free to comment and share your opinions.

And The Oscar Goes To…(Part 2)

It became clear to me that I had more opinions than I realised about the Oscars so that’s why I’ve had to do a second Oscar related blog post. As mentioned before, at the end of the day a nomination is still an honour and there’s more to a films success than winning an Oscar, however I still love the discussions that take place surrounding the Oscars and they do give a platform to smaller films and they do celebrate achievements in the film industry. If you want a recap of my previous Oscar themed blog post click here to read.

Queen Cate Blanchett

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Blue Jasmine (2013) should have basically been entitled: The Film Where Cate Blanchett Wins An Oscar. The comedy/drama directed by Oscar winning director Woodey Allen gave Cate Blanchett the platform to give a powerhouse of a performance which in turn earned her an Oscar win for Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading role in 2014. Cate Blanchett is an incredible actress and gave such an authentic performance with conviction as a woman who has had her life stripped away from her and how she is coping with the choices she’s made.

Cate Blanchett has been nominated for seven Oscars and now is a two time Oscar winning actress (her first win was for her supporting role in 2004’s The Aviator). She is the only Australian actress to win two Oscars and is the only actress to be nominated twice for the same role (of Queen Elizabeth I).

In 2014 Amy Adams was nominated for her fifth Oscar (first for a leading performance) in American Hustle, a performance I loved as it showed a different side to Amy Adams and she played a complex character brilliantly. But as much as I love Amy Adams the Oscar had to go to Blanchett, Blue Jasmine wasn’t perfect and the brilliance of Blanchett’s performance was that she carried the film on her shoulders effortlessly and she kept you watching because her performance was captivating and magnetic. I was so happy for Blanchett’s Oscar win because as soon as I saw her performance in Blue Jasmine in the cinemas I thought that she had to win the Oscar, and thankfully she did.

Amazing Alice

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In 2015 Julianne Moore won her first Oscar for her leading performance in Still Alice (2014) after having been nominated previously four times (twice in 2003 for leading performance in 2002’s Far From Heaven and a supporting role in 2002’s The Hours). Did Julianne Moore deserve her Oscar win in 2015? Yes. It was an honest and raw portrayal of someone losing themselves to Alzheimer’s. This was very much Moore’s film and her moment to show her range in one film.

However, in 2014 Rosamund Pike gave a chilling performance in David Fincher’s Gone Girl for which she was nominated for first Oscar for her leading performance. Talk about range, the character of “Amazing Amy” had many layers and was a complex character. She had to be the loving wife and daughter, the best friend of her neighbour, the psychotic survivalist, she knew how to adapt and play to different people’s emotions. Rosamund Pike portrayed that brilliantly and I was so happy when she was nominated an Oscar.

Personally I would have loved to see Pike win the Oscar but I know people really wanted Moore to win as this was her moment and for what many thought a long overdue win. I’m glad Pike was nominated in any case and hope she finds another meaty role to gain further recognition as well. So in short I’m happy “Amazing Alice” had won the Oscar.

The Oscar Artist

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In 2011 a beautiful French silent film was released and took the world by storm. In one of my earlier blog posts I mentioned The Artist as one of my top 10 favourite films of all time, because it’s a breath of fresh air. At the 2012 Academy Awards The Artist won 5 Oscars; Jean Dujardin was the first French actor to win Best Actor and it was the first film to win Best Picture.

It was so good to see a film that was different and unique sweep up the Oscars and to have had a great critical and commercial response; the film grossed $133 million worldwide against a $15 million budget. I love it when the Academy gives platforms to these smaller films from other countries to bring it to the attention of audiences across the world. I was so happy to see Dujardin win for Best Actor as it was impressive to see the exuberant performance with no words, it was all through actions and facial expressions.

She Dreamed A Dream

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Anne Hathaway is one of my favourite actresses. She had been nominated an Oscar in 2009 for her leading role in Rachel Getting Married (2008) and in 2013 she won the Oscar for Les Misérables (2012) for her supporting role as Fantine. In all honesty Les Misérables wasn’t my favourite film, however Anne Hathway gave one of the most heartbreaking and stunning performances, her I Dreamed a Dream sequence had you completely locked into her performance.

Hathaway received some of the best reviews of her career from Les Misérables,
Christopher Orr from The Atlantic wrote that:

“Hathaway gives it everything she has, beginning in quiet sorrow before building to a woebegone climax: she gasps, she weeps, she coughs. If you are blown away by the scene—as many will be—this may be the film for you.”

That close up shot which was fixated on Hathaway’s face was the standout of the film, and it shows the power of the performance that in a film running over 2 and a half hours people still talk about that one scene. From Princess of Genovia to Oscar Queen.

The Prequel To My Oscar Experience

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As mentioned in my first Oscar blog post, it was 2011 when I started watching the televised Academy Awards however I was still aware of who won in various categories the previous years, the 2009 Oscars were almost like a prequel to my Oscar viewing experience. In 2008 Angelina Jolie gave on of the most convicting and captivating performances I had ever seen in Changeling. Based on a true story, Jolie plays a mother whose son goes missing only to be returned to her convinced that the boy is not her son. The obstacles and challenges her character faces are horrifying and you truly are rooting for her character and Jolie plays the role with such power and force you feel her emotions. I wanted her to win an Oscar for her leading peformance, yes she has won for her supporting role in 2000 for Girl, Interrupted (1999) but she should have won her second Oscar in 2009.

Again, I was only partially aware of what was going on in 2009’s Award season so I didn’t realise that Kate Winslet was the favourite to win for her leading role in 2008’s The Reader. When I heard Winslet won instead of Jolie I was shocked, upset and confused. Jolie gave everything to her performance and it was such a powerful story, what more could she have done to win? In 2009 I hadn’t seen The Reader but did years later, Winslet of course is amazing in it…but more Oscar worthy than Jolie in The Changeling? Not really. I wasn’t happy with Winslet (even though it wasn’t her fault but I was young and naive).

For the record I love Kate Winslet, she is a brilliant actress who selects interesting roles and is consistent in her work. She has been nominated for 7 Oscars, 11 Golden Globes (4 wins) and 8 BAFTA’s (3 wins) over the course of her career. As time has passed on I’m happy to say that she is an Oscar winning actress, however I still can’t see how her performance in The Reader was more deserving than Jolie in Changeling.

At this moment at time I’m at peace with what happened, however there is still a part of me that would have loved to see Jolie walk up to that state and collect the Oscar for one of my favourite performances from an actress.

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Feel free to share your opinions regarding previous Oscar winners and nominees, what are you expecting for at this years Oscars? Feel free to comment below. The 89th Academy Awards are on 26th February 2017.

 

Arrival (2016) Film Review

 

3 STARS

Arrival has received universal critical acclaim and has grossed $130 million worldwide at the box office against a $47 million budget. Arrival also received 2 Golden Globe nominations including a nomination for Amy Adams in the Best Performance by an Actress in a Motion Picture – Drama category. One would assume that Arrival is a great film that everyone should see, I hate to say it but I was not blown away by this supposedly fresh and unique take on the sci-fi genre. I’m conflicted because there were aspects I appreciated and I think I know what they were aiming for, however it never really clicked with me.

WHAT I LOVED

AMY ADAMS

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Amy Adams was the standout. The 5 time Oscar nominated actress can do no wrong and deserves her Golden Globe nomination for her performance in Arrival. Amy Adams has to be one of my favourite actresses because she gives powerful and diverse performances in films such as Enchanted (2007), Doubt (2008), American Hustle (2013) and Big Eyes (2014). She isn’t afraid to tackle any genre as she takes on a role and gives it her all.

This time she strips it back and there’s power in the stillness of her performance; we meet her character Louise at a moment in her life where she is numb from the hardships that life has dealt her and when the aliens arrive she has to find her purpose again. Amy Adams is captivating because you’re constantly watching trying to decipher what her character is feeling and processing as she’s dealing with the current state of events as well as dealing with the repercussions of her past.

DIRECTION

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The only other film I’ve seen from Denis Villeneuve is the Emily Blunt fronted Sicario (2015) which I loved. There are similarities in terms of his direction; he doesn’t rush the pace or tone of the film and he lets moments just be. It may be slow for some but for me it’s Denis allowing the audience to be in the moment and take in every little thing in. As I was watching Arrival I could detect the sense of direction from Denis, however towards the end it never really took off and the pay off was quite anti-climactic (which I’ll expand upon later on) but on the whole I loved his directing style.

SUBVERTING GENRE

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The one thing Arrival has going for it is that it isn’t a flashy and loud sci-fi blockbuster extravaganza; it’s very stripped back and quiet. Going back to the points about Denis’ directing style and Amy Adam’s performance there is a stillness which is refreshing and the film does it’s best to try to be thought provoking and giving little bits away to keep the audience watching.

 

WHAT I DIDN’T LOVE

ALIENS (not the film)

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What were up with those aliens? The design of the aliens were so bland and unoriginal. The whole concept of the aliens were wasted and I was disappointed thinking that Arrival would offer something we haven’t seen before and yet it was very generic in design.

THE MESSAGE

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The overall message as well didn’t really connect as much as I wanted it to. I understood what the film was going for and there’s a moment where Amy Adams asks Jeremy Renner’s character Ian whether if he knew what life would deal him would he still go for it. Without giving too much away I understood what the film was trying to convey to the audience but found it pointless and a wasted opportunity be told through a sci-fi film; there was no need for aliens to come down and serve the purpose they served. I remember the film finishing and just thinking what on earth have I just watched? Because even though I understood the overall message of the film there were still some unanswered questions.

 

CONCLUSION

From the director who brought us Sicario (2015), featuring a great cast consisting of Amy Adams (American Hustle, Her, Enchanted, The Muppets) and Jeremy Renner (The Hurt Locker, Avengers Assemble, American Hustle, Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol) and the fact Arrival had rave reviews I was left feeling very disappointed and didn’t feel the film delivered on what was being promised to the audiences. There are some positives to be taken away from the film viewing (as discussed previously) however ultimately it isn’t a sci-fi that is going to become a modern day classic. Dare I say that I’d rather watch Interstellar (2014) than Arrival.

Actors Appreciation Season: AMY ADAMS

Amazing Amy Adams. Roles ranging from Giselle (Enchanted) to Sister James (Doubt), from Lois Lane (Man of Steel) to Mary (The Muppets), Amy Adams has an extensive and diverse catalogue of roles that she has played. Amy manages to balance her career with exciting blockbusters and indie projects and she does so with ease.

Amy Adams has been nominated for 5 Oscars and she has won 2 Golden Globes. She has worked with acclaimed directors such as David O. Russell, Paul Thomas Anderson, Tim Burton etc. She has also worked with Oscar winners such as Christian Bale, Jennifer Lawrence and Meryl Streep, as well as Oscar nominees Bradley Cooper and Joaquin Phoenix (tip of the ice berg) and continues to captivate audiences with her exciting and complicated roles.

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The role which caught my attention was in Disney’s Enchanted. Amy Adams was perfect for the naive Giselle living in the real world, experiencing cultural shifts from the animated world to the harsh reality of New York. The role earned her a Golden Globe nomination, because she is the answer to how a Disney animated character would fare in the real world and she does so with such wit and believability. The film itself is brilliant, referencing many Disney animations and being tongue and cheek about certain Disney conventions! 8 years on and she still in Giselle in my eyes.

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The role of Giselle easily contrasts with the next role I’ll highlight, which is Sydney in 2013’s American Hustle. The film as a whole wasn’t my favourite, but it was a brilliant film to showcase great actors, most notably Amy Adams. She lead the film with such rawness and vulnerability, playing a layered and complicated character with such conviction seems to her. Amy Adams was evenly matched (if not superior) with her co-stars as she lead the cast ensemble. If I were to talk about the rest of her roles, this would easily be a long blog post.

As mentioned before, Amy Adams has paved a career which allows her to flow in and out of mainstream and independent films. One minute she’s playing in Night at the Museum 2: The Battle of the Smithsonian and the next she’s playing in the Oscar winning Her, whatever role she’s in she totally owns it and does so with such integrity.

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Not only is she an incredible actress, but she’s a great singer and performer. Enchanted highlighted these talents, as well as 2011’s The Muppets. She was amazing performing the Oscar nominated song “That’s How You Know” in Enchanted, playing off the Disney convention where you can easily break into song at any time. As well as singing “Me Party” in The Muppets, she clearly knows what a real party is and she brings vibrancy and fun to the scene. So it’s amazing how she can switch it to more serious roles, such as her Oscar nominated turn in Doubt.

It’s an amazing achievement being nominated for 5 Oscars, but please can the Academy give her an Oscar win now. Thank you.