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.

My Movie Life

Recently I was reading the March 2017 issue of TOTAL FILM magazine and came across a feature which interested me. Director Richard Kelly (Donnie Darko – 2001) did a feature entitled ‘My Movie Life’ in which he gave a list of movie titles he would watch in various circumstances. As I was reading the feature I thought it would be fun to do the same so here are a selection of movies that I’ve selected for these varied topics.

MY DESERT ISLAND MOVIE

Tangled (2010)

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Picking a movie for this section is hard because you have to think of a film that will have a lasting impact. Tangled is a movie which I can watch over and over again. It’s a vibrant, fun and colourful movie with a strong leading character and a welcomed modern twist on a fairytale classic. I will declare Tangled as my favourite Disney movie and will even go as far as to say Tangled has one of the best soundtracks for a Disney animation (even better than Frozen – 2013).

THE MOVIE THAT MAKES ME CRY

Never Let Me Go (2010)

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In all honestly I haven’t physically cried at this movie (the last movie I actually cried at was the 2005 movie King Kong when I was 12, no joke) but Never Let Me Go is the most thought provoking and emotionally raw movie I have ever seen. It’s a very effortless and understated movie which is also very poignant and emotionally captivating. This is a movie with a powerful ending due to its subtlety and leaves you with a lot to ponder over. You won’t be sorry to have watched it.

THE LAST MOVE I WATCHED ON A PLANE

Date Night (2010)

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Tina Fey plus Steve Carrell equals an enjoyable watch. Don’t judge me as it was 3am in the morning (I think) and it was on a long flight back home from Africa so I wanted to watch something fun and light hearted. I had watched movies like Midnight Special (2016), Eternal Sunshine of a Spotless Mind (2004)...ahem…Daddy’s Home (2015)...but Date Night is the last movie I have watched on a plane.

THE MOVIE I WISHED I DIRECTED

The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King (2003)

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Not that I could ever reach the towering heights of Oscar winner Peter Jackson’s brilliance but of course directing my favourite movie ever would be amazing. Directing a movie with huge spectacle rooted in depth is something a lot of filmmakers could learn from (maybe Christopher Nolan and Peter Jackson could teach the world that lesson).

MY FAVOURITE MOVIE THAT MESSED WITH MY HEAD

Gone Girl (2014)

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There’s not enough words to do justice of the major plot twist that Gillian Flynn writes for both novel and movie version of Gone Girl. The moment which really grabbed me was halfway through the book/movie when Amy says…

*SPOILER*

“I’m so glad now that I’m dead.”

I literally gasped and was so shocked. I’m pretty clueless in general but even this plot twist caught me off guard. From that point onwards the plot escalates and Amy is fully let out of her cage.

Even though I knew what would happen in the movie it didn’t lose its impact as Oscar nominee Rosamund Pike perfect encapsulates the character of Amazing Amy. The movie is brilliantly crazy in a perfectly calculated way. You’ll finish the movie trying to process everything that has happen, it definitely leaves an impact.

THE MOVIE I LOVE THAT NOBODY TALKS ABOUT 

Sing Street (2016)

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Easily one of the best movies last year! I was surprised how much I enjoyed it when I watched it at the cinema but my love for the movie has only grown stronger. There’s such an authenticity in all respects that is endearing and engaging. It also helps that it has an incredible soundtrack with songs that won’t leave you.

It is an indie movie that premiered at Sundance 2016 and sadly not many people (hardly anyone) knows about this movie from the people I talk to. There’s something fun about feeling like you’ve found a hidden gem but at the same time it’s criminal that not more people know about Sing Street. It was nominated a Golden Globe after all.

 

It’s fun trying to fit different films in various categories, it’s worth a try to do what I just did for this blog post yourself.

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.