'Nocturnal Animals' Review: Revenge is a dish that's best served cold

A Potpourri of Vestiges Review 

By Murtaza Ali Khan 

It is said that revenge is a dish that's best served cold. Some of the best revenge stories work on the very idea. While growing up I had the privilege of reading Alexandre Dumas' The Count of Monte Cristo and till date I can vouch that not many revenge stories come close to Dumas' brilliant tale of revenge about how Edmond Dantes alias Count of Monte Cristo exacted his vengeance upon his culprits (a quest that takes him 29 years to complete). He simply cuts them to pieces (of course not in a literal sense). But such is the extent of his revenge that in the end he himself is disgusted by its design and even has pity on Danglars, one of the key perpetrators of his Dantes' ruin, and allows him to leave with his freedom and 50,000 francs.
Tom Ford's Nocturnal Animals is also about revenge (and one that's served cold). Susan Morrow divorces Edward Sheffield (a struggling writer) and marries the rich and suave Hutton Morrow. Susan sees Edward as weak and fragile, a man with average writing talent and without hunger for the riches of the world. Hutton is everything Edward isn't. He is a real charmer and has the world at his feet. So she pushes Edward out of her life by getting his child aborted. 19 years later Edward sends Susan (now a rich art gallery owner living in Los Angeles) the manuscript of his upcoming novel. The novel is his instrument of revenge against Susan for coldly walking out of his life.

Video Review of Nocturnal Animals by Film Critic Murtaza Ali Khan (in Hindi)

As soon as Susan opens the parcel she gets a paper cut on her finger. Ford hints us early on that the parcel contains something that's going to hurt her. The parcel also contains a note. It reads: "Dear Susan, I have written a novel that will be published in the spring. It's different from the kind of things that I was writing when we were together. In the end you left me with the inspiration that I needed to write from the heart. I wanted you to be the first one to read it, so I am sending along a proof. I will be in LA until Wednesday on business and it would be good to see you after so long. My cell number and address are below." The novel is dedicated to Susan and titled Nocturnal Animals after Edward's nickname for her.
True to her nickname, Susan is always wide awake during the night. Her inability to sleep is worsened by her Hutton's growing lack of interest in her. Convinced that her husband is having an extra-marital affair, Susan spends the night reading Edward's novel. Shocked by the dark content and raw emotion of the novel, she begins to remember her time with Edward, suddenly feeling a certain longing for him.
Both the events of Edwards' novel as well as Susan's memories of the time she was in love with Edward about two decades back unfold simultaneously as Susan in the present day gets overwhelmed with emotions. The intercutting is absolutely breathtaking as Ford's hypnotic narrative effortlessly transcends time and space. One moment, Susan is in the present time reading the novel and the very next moment she is having a romantic dinner with Edward of old. At one moment, a young Edward is telling Susan that he is deeply hurt by her scathing criticism of his writing. The very next moment we are with the characters in Edward's novel. And the revenge arc works so well at the intellectual level. One really has to watch it to truly appreciate the fluidity of Ford's deeply layered storytelling. And what can one say about the acting performances. Jake Gyllenhaal (in a wonderfully crafted double role), Amy Adams, Michael Shannon, Aaron Taylor-Johnson are all great to watch.

Readers, please feel free to share your opinion by leaving your comments. As always your valuable thoughts are highly appreciated

People who liked this also liked...
Share on Google Plus


Post a Comment

Thanks for sharing for valuable opinion. We would be delighted to have you back.