With the fall film festivals underway, moviegoers are entering the thick of awards season, as various prestigious projects contend for Oscar gold. One of the better offerings building buzz right now is Nocturnal Animals, a new drama by writer/director Tom Ford (A Single Man). Featuring a dynamite cast that includes the likes of perennial Academy Award nominee Amy Adams, Jake Gyllenhaal, Michael Shannon, and Aaron Taylor-Johnson, it tells the story of an art gallery owner (Adams) who is haunted by her ex-husband’s (Gyllenhaal) novel, which she reads as a veiled threat and symbolic revenge story.
Distributor Focus Features got the ball rolling on marketing ahead of the movie’s limited November 18 release recently by releasing four character posters depicting the film’s four leads. As one would expect, the next stage of advertising includes the first trailer, and the studio has now posted it online. You can watch the preview above.
The trailer establishes Adams’ Susan Morrow as a woman who has seemingly become dissatisfied with the direction of her life. In her sleepless nights, she spends much of her time thinking about her former husband Edward Sheffield, whose violent and sad book is dedicated to her (and is titled after a nickname Edward had for Susan). It’s revealed that Susan “did something horrible” to Edward during their relationship, which is being left as a mystery for now. Though, it’s obvious that whatever it was emotionally wrecked Sheffield, judging by his chilling closing line of “Nobody gets away with what she did. Nobody.”
For those not in the know, Nocturnal Animals presents a multi-layered narrative in which Susan imagines the events of the novel while she’s reading it. Gyllenhaal also plays the book’s main character Tony Hastings, whose family goes through an unspeakable tragedy. In these sections of the film, Taylor-Johnson portrays the criminal Ray Marcus, and he looks to have delivered a delightfully unhinged turn as a murderer. The story has been favorably compared to the suspenseful tales of Alfred Hitchcock, combining elements of noir with psychological drama. If the early word-of-mouth is anything to go by, cinephiles will eat this one up when it makes its way to theaters.
From a technical standpoint, Nocturnal Animals is beautifully shot and visually striking thanks to the work done by Oscar nominated cinematographer Seamus McGarvey. The look of the trailer sets up a moody atmosphere that’s meant to make the viewer feel uneasy as the story unfolds. Many pundits in the early reviews have applauded Ford’s ambition and vision on his latest film, with some considering it a step up in his evolution as a filmmaker. Time will tell if audiences are in agreement, but the first preview seems to make good on those claims.
It’s still fairly early to pencil in potential Oscar nominees for this year, but Nocturnal Animals has as good a shot as any film at this stage. Adams, who has five nominations to her name, seems poised for a breakthrough between this and Arrival, and Gyllenhaal has the recent snub of Nightcrawler to boost his case. It will be interesting to see how Nocturnal Animals performs on the awards circuit, since one common criticism that’s emerged is that the movie is very stylish, but lacks substance. Still, it’s getting high marks out of the festivals, so it could be a part of Oscar night.
Nocturnal Animals opens in a limited number of theaters November 18, 2016. It will expand wide December 9, 2016.
Source: Focus Features