Being directed by a fashion designer, this film is very aesthetically-driven. The cinematography is beautiful and the production design is well-planned in order to develop the story. That being said, not everything associated with the visually-oriented parts of the film is perfect. For example, the title sequence is unnecessarily long and unrelevant to the rest of the film. It doesn't foreshadow anything that happens later; it's just weird. I could have done without the prolonged title sequence and went directly into the next shot.
The writing in the film is definitely very intriguing. The story is quite interesting, and very involving for most of the film. There are two main storylines: one about Amy Adam's relationship with her ex-husband, and one the story in the novel written by the ex-husband. I just think that the film may have had a hard time deciding what it wanted to say. It is obviously trying to connect the story in the novel to the story that is taking place in the real world, but I think that it couldn't decide how. The cinematography and editing parallel Amy Adams to Jake Gyllenhaal (in the novel); the acting and writing parallels her to Isla Fisher; the theme parallels her to Aaron Taylor Johnson. This means that there are many possible interpretations to the story, but I also think that it means that it is a bit more chaotic and undecided than it needs to be.
The acting in the film is phenomenal. I thought that Gyllenhaal's performance was as good as he always is, balancing his ability to convey emotion with his ability to be mysterious and creepy. Michael Shannon delivers an excellent supporting performance, completely diving into the character and further showing his diverse range. Aaron Taylor-Johnson actually impressed me the most out of all of the actors, surprisingly menacing and believable in a role that could have easily been overacted. Amy Adams is very good in her role, but surprisingly, she usually isn't he star of the show, as the scene is usually stolen by the other actors on screen.
So overall, I liked "Nocturnal Animals" a lot, but I don't think that it is a great film. It is well-made, but it has a bit too much going on in the writing to be fully effective. Still, it is very intriguing.
Big Tuna's Rating: B+
How Did I Watch It?: In theaters.
Had I Seen It Before?: No.
Would I Watch It Again?: Probably.