All posts by Scott Gentry

Christian. Film critic. Pretentious git (apparently). Adamant defender of "Boyhood", to the bitter end... Favourite Films: Boogie Nights, Once Upon A Time In The West, A Matter of Life And Death, Hannah and Her Sisters.

War For The Planet of The Apes – Review

Many may be unfamiliar with the 1968 classic, Planet of The Apes, yet it is virtually impossible to not recognise this often-quoted line: “Take your stinking paws off me, you damned dirty ape!” From The Big Bang Theory to Chris Rock’s Top Five, POTA has been referenced consistently throughout popular culture. And this is a credit to the work of Pierre Boulle (source novelist), writers Michael Wilson and the legendary Rod Serling, in their crafting of a gripping “What if?” sci-fi drama and perhaps the greatest plot twist in cinema history. So how on earth could such rich source material inspire four lacklustre sequels, two failed television series and a laughable remake starring Marky Mark, and directed by…Tim Burton? As the apes depicted within this series evolved (albeit through a prospective miracle drug, ALZ-113) in regards to intellect and other human-like abilities, so must a tired, ancient franchise. And in 2011, Rupert Wyatt’s Rise OTPOTA elevated the summer blockbuster to dizzying heights, delivering a supremely intelligent character-driven drama. Six years on, director Matt Reeves and Andy Serkis reteam for all-out war. But the question is this: With a temptation to prioritise bang-for-your-buck over an emotionally-driven narrative, will War FTPOTA bend the knee to Hollywood?

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Haunted by his emotionally scarred and ultimately treacherous lieutenant, Koba, and perpetually pursued by a ruthless army of humans, Caesar (Andy Serkis) and his tribe of apes are at breaking point. Some have even defected, pledging their allegiance to a colonel (Woody Harrelson) whose draconian tactics would even make Full Metal Jacket’s Sgt. Hartman blush. Following a battle which incurs tragic loses, Caesar’s plans to inherit a newly discovered ‘promised land’ come to a standstill. Instead, he and a small company of trusted apes embark upon a quest, to avenge their kind and ultimately, end the war. Whatever the cost.

Opening with a spectacularly crafted assault on an ape stronghold, War immediately alerts us to the fact that from this point on, mercy will be sparse and bloodshed maximal. As a band of soldiers approach, Reeves and fellow writer Mark Bomback deliberately donate time to focussing on soldiers and their helmets. Some of which feature crudely drawn and abusive graffiti, such as “Monkey killer” and my personal favourite, “The only good Kong, is a dead Kong”. Without characters breathing a word, audiences are informed of how deadly a situation this is, and how each individual is feeling through a variety of claustrophobic close-ups. And once the battle begins, a barrage of bullets and spears fly in all directions.

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The effect is, as it should be, deafening. Yet it is a credit to Reeves and cinematographer Michael Seresin, as the focus is always upon the tragic cost of violence. With each shot of an impaled soldier and wounded ape, emotion is drawn from the subject first, over spectacle – something the rebooted franchise has perfected, whilst setting a bench-mark for its blockbuster counterparts. This masterfully protracted sequence of tension and many like it, exist within War, aided by the ever-great work of composer Michael Giacchino (The Incredibles, Star Trek), who effectively taps into haunting effects of war through the particular utilisation of a choir.

Despite its emotional power, the narrative and subsequent developments of War is occasionally uninventive, as a large portion of the final act is fairly reminiscent of The Great Escape – something that Rise already tapped into. But it is surprisingly easy to forgive such a small shortcoming, as the film’s performances are exemplary. Much has been said of Serkis and his dedication to his Mo-Cap craft, but it seems as though his partnership with Reeves has allowed his character to deepen significantly, in addition to the many other apes onscreen. Caesar is an ape, yet here, he struggles with typically human difficulties: Guilt, rage, revenge. Each of which Serkis (and his co-stars) taps into, throughout purely character-driven moments. In some ways, it is easy to forget that he is an ape, as every possible emotion is wrung from each moment. Caesar is also joined by Steve Zahn’s Bad Ape, a charming if blissfully awkward, yet resourceful ape who speaks into Caesar’s life when family and friends are needed the most. Often, Bad Ape provides much-needed comic relief throughout a film packed with torture, death of family and imprisonment. But it is a testament to the writing of Reeves and Bomback, who rightfully choose for that not to be his primary function. And this is applicable to all apes throughout the film. Each one is different and is dealing with a manner of emotions. In a lesser film, they would have blended together in a CGI/VFX crowd. But here, the care and attention behind and in front of the camera shows.

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Whilst providing the spectacle promised to us by its intense ad campaign, War retains its greatest asset: Fleshed-out characters with genuine emotions. It is virtually impossible to think of its characters as CGI creations, but living, breathing apes who grapple with deeply human themes in a truly powerful way. Thankfully, with this third instalment, there’s no monkeying around.


War for the Planet of the Apes is out in cinemas now! 

Ghost in the Shell – Review

Adaptations of an original beloved manga or other ‘sacred’ properties, can often put an audience’s back up. And since 2014, the film’s production has been plagued by damning accusations of Hollywood whitewashing and of course, the age-old argument: What’s wrong with the original? With 2017’s Ghost in the Shell, this reviewer can regretfully report, that Hollywood officially has a fault with their imagination.

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In 2029, the world as we know it, has been forever altered by the rapid evolution in technology. A vast electronic network now connects every human being on the planet. Whilst cybernetic enhancements replace antiquated practices, such as going under the knife. Instead, limbs, eyes (and often entire bodies) can be replaced with sleek, robotic alternatives, named “shells” – enabling it’s user to be endowed with superhuman abilities. But with the perpetual development of technology, cyberterrorists continue to thwart man’s progress at every turn. Employed by the government, Section 9 – an elite task force – is the only line of defence against a faceless enemy. But upon the emergence of a murderous cyber-criminal named Kuze (Michael Pitt), the trust between Section 9’s cyber enhanced leader, Major (Scarlett Johansson), her mysterious superiors and Hanka Robotics, is hazardously strained.

On November 13th 2016, the first full trailer for Ghost In The Shell debuted to the world. In addition to promising the acting presence of Scarlett Johansson, the trailer promised a society dominated by a killer cyberpunk/Blade Runner aesthetic and a slew of fascinating gadgets/robots – including some painstakingly designed and equally terrifying Geishas… Alas, the intrigue ends there. For Ghost In The Shell is – apart from the concepts lazily extracted from the original manga – devoid of a heart, amongst its intricately wired and sleek body. With every opportunity to consider what it is to be human or to debate the alarmingly inadvisable self-improvement of the human body (via robotics), writers Jamie Moss, William Wheeler and Ehren Kruger instead opt out for a series of albeit slickly photographed, but ultimately lacklustre action sequences, punctuated by clichéd plot machinations and uninspired dialogue. Worse still, the concept of ‘character’ is literally reduced to a protagonist, antagonist, mentor and the type of cannon fodder that barely possesses a name – you know, the characters who state a name so quickly and infrequently, that the writers are practically admitting how pointless they really are? And even in their frequent slow motion glory, characters such as Pilou Asbæk’s Batou rely on their (undeniable) ‘cool’, over development. And if that wasn’t enough, the talent of legendary performers such as Juliette Binoche and an ultra-cool Takeshi Kitano is criminally wasted.

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Yet, one of the film’s few scenes void of any noise, remains it’s most impactful. As Major desperately clings to her formerly human qualities, she meets with what one can assume, is a prostitute. Sexual activity does not occur between them, yet Major lightly presses her hand against her cheek. In a relatively short moment, all of the pain and confusion felt by Major is conveyed simply, yet effectively, through Johansson’s unique gift of facial expression. An outsider, Major is frighteningly similar to the ruthless, yet poignantly inquisitive Female of Jonathan Glazer’s Under The Skin. Potential double bill?

If you’re listening Hollywood, know this: the merging of intellectual discussion and awe-inspiring spectacle is entirely possible – it has been achieved. Trust your mainstream audiences to be able to tap into challenging motifs – they are willing. In the unfortunate case of Ghost In The Shell, all that remains which is worth praising (at the end of its surprisingly arduous 107 minute running time) is it’s stylistic beauty, a delightfully moody score from Clint Mansell, and Michael Pitt’s commanding, unsettling android. For Ghost In The Shell to possess the emotional impact it so desperately longs for, it required purpose. And perhaps they were “so preoccupied with whether or not they could, that they didn’t stop to think if they should.” But that isn’t what filmmaking is about.


Ghost in the Shell is out on digital download now! 

Neruda – Review

In the latter half of 2016, Chilean filmmaker Pablo Larraín garnered international acclaim for a little film named Jackie, a stirring portrait of grief endured by the titular Jackie Kennedy, following the brutal assassination of her husband. As expected, Jackie ticked the appropriate boxes (including nominations for Best Performance by an Actress In a Leading Role, Best Achievement in Costume Design and Best Original Score) in order to potentially escort Larraín and 20th Century Fox to a swift victory, at the 2017 Oscars. Alas, Jackie was snubbed. And amidst stories of prohibited telephone lobbying and of course, the fiasco that was Best Picture, an unfortunate shadow was cast over the smaller, problematic, yet personal Neruda – Larraín’s first film of 2016.

Chile, 1948. Legendary poet, lothario and opinionated Communist Senator, Pablo Neruda (Luis Gnecco), is at the height of his powers. But upon hearing that the administration of President Gabriel González has outlawed communism within Chile, Neruda rises against his detractors, fiercely denouncing such an injustice. An arrest warrant is swiftly issued, and Neruda is forced to lay low. Defiant to the end, Neruda taunts the government by actively appearing amongst the public, utilising a series of ingenious disguises and seemingly endless tricks. Enraged by Neruda’s insolence, the government enlist the help of Oscar Peluchonneau (Gael García Bernal), Chile’s Chief of the Investigations Police, to pursue and capture Neruda at all costs.

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In complete honesty, Neruda is a baffling, yet wholly fascinating piece of art. At the heart of its narrative lies a thrilling chase, between two equally driven men who are determined to succeed, no matter the cost. Yet for a large portion of its running time, Neruda is an amalgamation of a series of genres, including (but not limited to) the western and arthouse film. The film is, for the most part, a thriller à la Terrence Malick. It possesses a dream-like quality which frequently provokes a sense of confusion – Did ANY of this happen? Or is it fictionalised? – similar to the far more accessible and emotionally stirring Chet Baker biopic, Born To Be Blue. But ultimately, its blend of fact, fiction and various genres provokes a sense that Guillermo Calderón’s admittedly inventive screenplay, is forcefully attempting to rewrite the code of the traditional biopic, by throwing all that he can into the mix.

Calderón’s screenplay is risky, yet it is clear that he lives and breathes Pablo Neruda. From its poetic narration and unrestricted lyrical scope, Calderón commits a lengthy poem worthy of the legend, to the screen. The film’s results are not always successful, as poetry and film are two distinctly different pieces of art – the latter requires a tightly paced narrative in order to develop characters… etc. Neruda can often prove to be an exhausting and confusing 107 minutes. Viewers who are unfamiliar with the famed poet and his political activities (like myself), may be left very far behind. Whilst others will find the film to be educational and frequently beautiful. Regardless of its faults, Neruda features two commendable performances from Gnecco and Bernal, in addition to an up-and-coming director with some serious cinematic style.


Neruda is out on DVD 10th July! 

After The Storm – Review

Whilst any recollection of 2017’s Academy Awards will forever be marred by an unprecedented blunder, its selection of nominees for Best Picture remain a diverse array of emotionally charged and technically accomplished films. Amidst the glitz of La La Land, or the deafening horror within Hacksaw Ridge, one film firmly stood its ground: Manchester By The Sea. A relatively quiet, yet emotionally raw depiction, of unparalleled grief (caused by a tragic accident). It’s authentic and emotional power alone, propelled the film’s narrative ahead. Similarly, Palme d’Or winner Hirokazu Koreeda returns with After The Storm, possessing a narrative which smartly subverts the ‘dysfunctional family’ archetype, whilst portraying life in all of its wonderful mundanity. Tragedy has struck a family, but with Koreeda, it isn’t generated by an unlikely event depicted within Kenneth Lonergan’s Academy Award winner. It is a painfully authentic depiction of family life – tranquillity abruptly concluded.

In the fifteen years that have passed since novelist Ryota Shinoda (Hiroshi Abe) published an award-winning debut, life has dealt him a poor hand indeed. In addition to struggling with a sophomore slump, Ryota’s marriage has tragically dissolved (and with it, a precious relationship with his son, Shingo), his father has died and in order to pay exceedingly expensive child support bills, he is forced to work as an underpaid private detective. Unsatisfied with the course of his life, Ryota attempts to rekindle his fractured relationships, and become a reliable father once more. And upon a visit to his mother’s home, Ryota is given his chance, when the dysfunctional family find themselves trapped, upon the breakout of a dangerous storm.

Considering After The Storm’s tent-pole (UK) release date, one might expect some bang for your buck. Perhaps a sequel to 2014’s Into The Storm? Thank heavens, no. In fact, what surprised me most about Hirokazu Koreeda’s continuation of the Japanese realist film, is its silence. Tragedy may have struck the life of our protagonist and his family, but Koreeda’s characters deal with their pain through an occasional glance, or the odd sentence which is quietly devastating. We aren’t treated to another sequence in which “a stoic man loses his s**t behind the wheel of his car”. Instead, Koreeda indulges within protracted, gentle scenes, allowing the anguish felt by many of his characters to be released slowly, over the course of the film’s near two hour running time. The film may drag at times, yet without this deliberate running time, the ultimate end point for the characters would be rendered meaningless for audiences, due to a lack of essential character development.

And despite the archetypes that may apply to them, Koreeda’s rich characters are multi-layered, complex human beings. Each possesses their own unique Achilles heel. Some are unable to admit painful truths, or are crushed by the weight of life’s expectations – “They say great talent blooms late. But you’re taking too long to bloom.” And their anguish shows, yet is masterfully controlled by a talented cast. In one emotionally stirring sequence, Ryota’s desperation to provide Shingo (Taiyo Yoshizawa) with a pair of football shoes is so great, that he deliberately damages them, in order to receive a discount. It may only be a short sequence, but it is one of the many gestures within After The Storm that conveys far more raw emotion, than its character’s dialogue, ever could.

After The Storm’s cast are superb, yet it is Hiroshi Abe and his crafting of Ryota, which truly impresses. Whilst the first act predominantly focusses upon Ryota’s occupation, this isn’t The Big Sleep, or Chinatown. But it isn’t an accident either. Clearly, Ryota endeavours to help people. And his investment within these countless cases of infidelity and general depravity, only indicate that Ryota’s interest is cathartic. His repressed feelings of anger and sorrow can clearly be found within the lives of his clients, for whom he solves their case. He solves similar problems to his own, which momentarily alleviates his pain. His almost-permanent haggard complexion is lifted with a brief smile, revealing the joyful soul he once was. Abe doesn’t rely on bodily contortions or odd vocal decisions. Instead, his performance shows great restraint, especially during sequences in which melodrama might threaten to take over.

After The Storm’s first act may reek of family drama cliché, yet it is Koreeda’s unique decision to stage his final hour as a confined, intimate character study (brought upon by the arrival of a potentially deadly storm), which forces his characters to address their inherent faults and fractured relationships. The result is a quietly moving drama, which possesses some of the finest dialogue and character development, in recent years.


After The Storm is released in UK cinemas from Friday, June 2nd 2017. 

Silence – Review

In 17th century Portugal, two Catholic priests — Sebastião Rodrigues (Andrew Garfield) and Francisco Garrpe (Adam Driver) — receive word that a fellow Jesuit, Father Cristóvão Ferreira (Liam Neeson), has committed apostasy following months of torture. In order to save him, the two priests risk persecution and certain death, as they travel to Japan within the time of Kakure Kirishitan (“Hidden Christians”), to search for their mentor.

As expected of a Martin Scorsese picture, Silence is a film which surpasses a running time of 150 minutes. For many weary critics, films of this length can prove to be an endurance test – one which isn’t always passed with flying colours. For myself however, the experience of Silence (an adaptation of Shusaku Endo’s 1966 acclaimed novel) provoked a profoundly unique appraisal, of my own faith. Upon its end, I didn’t rush to leave the screening room. I simply reclined into my seat and reflected, “And I thought my faith had been challenged.”

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Considering my Christian faith, it was utterly impossible to view such a tale of intolerable torment without calling to mind the contemporary form of persecution throughout the entire world, faced by my fellow brothers and sisters in Christ. It is easy to forget that persecution is not only limited to Christians within unsettled regions of the Middle East. It also encompasses escalating assaults upon religious groups such as Yazidis, Jews, Ahmadis and Baha’is.

As I witnessed barbaric acts of violence inflicted upon so many innocent lives, I frequently asked myself, “Would my spirit be strong enough to proclaim Christ as my Lord and saviour, despite the threat of violence being inflicted upon me?” Of course, I would like to believe that my spirit would endure. In actuality, I am not sure that it could. Yet Silence possesses a screenplay which admirably honours the sacrifices of various martyrs, who remain devoted until they take their last breath upon this earth. Even for those without faith, I am certain that Silence is liable to provoke many people to question the mission and dedication of Jesuit priests, but also the very essence of faith. Whether they grant the subjects with hostility or respect, is entirely up to them. For Scorsese, he has described the process of making this film as an extension of his own pilgrimage as a “lapsed (Roman) Catholic”. One who – through the journey of this filmmaking process – has tried to venture deeper into faith with only the essentials, so that he may grasp an “understanding of what compassion is about”.

In return, Scorsese has said that the experience of Silence forced him to “contemplate” his own spirituality. Therefore, the motifs of such a theologically rich screenplay only support the theory that Scorsese himself may be using this opportunity to channel his own questions of faith.

Interestingly, it is apparent that Scorsese has boldly explored his faith in and throughout the making of Silence. Some critics may see this as him just taking the opportunity to discuss theology once again (see Kundun, The Last Temptation of Christ), but I see it as a passionate and daring revelation of a filmmaker whose mind may be frustrated with questions, and appears to be continually inspecting his own faith, in the only way that can bring him peace or satisfaction: writing/directing film.

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But when specific questions of faith arise from the narrative (Does anyone actually hear my cries? If God is “on mute”, are we able to truly place our trust in him? Should we as Christians, deny our faith to save our life?), they seem to not only derive from Scorsese and the source material, but all walks of life. At times the questions seem raw or deeply personal, but the responses are always intellectually advanced and wholly inspiring. This is not an openly evangelistic film, nor is it 100% pro-Christianity. Similar to an intellectually stimulating debate, Cocks and Scorsese allow both sides of an argument to be heard. With such a lengthy (testing, but necessary) running time, the narrative is able to spend ample time with both the Jesuit priests, an apostatised priest (Neeson’s Ferreira), a villager with a faith in crisis (Yōsuke Kubozuka’s fascinating Kichijiro) and their captors – led by the outstanding Issey Ogata. Surprisingly, the group of antagonists possess believable or rational reasoning behind their convictions, which a lesser filmmaker would have deprived them of. Yet the answer to this horrifying dilemma that the priests find themselves in, is never satisfyingly clear-cut. The complexity of the film’s central debate will either enthral viewers, or simply become a trial within itself. Without spoiling the film’s denouement, I am pleased to divulge that a resolution of sorts, does occur. Whether one can class it as positive or negative, is difficult to say.

Aside from its rich theological elements, Silence fully realises such a visually stunning historical period. Whether the camera is focused upon a villager’s hut or a Catholic church, the meticulous attention to detail allows the setting to feel lived in. This ultimately aids the narrative once the persecution begins, as the jail cells (in which certain characters spend much of their time) and various other buildings never seem like sets built for the production. They possess a sense of authenticity, which allows the film and the horrors within it, to seem all the more real.

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The same can be said for that of various dialogue which derives from the Japanese villagers. A conscious decision seems to have been taken to not translate large portions of it, or offer many subtitled sequences. This is a bold decision, as it often caused me to feel frustrated with the film. Yet it is evidence that the film strives for authenticity at every turn, as it places audiences into the very shoes of the Jesuits – considering most audience members are unable to interpret Japanese, similar to the Jesuits. Scorsese and Cocks take the notion of travelling to a foreign land, with no concept of what to expect, but allow it to remain realistic.

For all of the film’s technical achievements (sumptuous cinematography, Kurosawa-esque framing), its most interesting element is the first-rate portrayal of Jesuit priests by Andrew Garfield and Adam Driver – as Sebastião and Francisco, respectively. Whilst so many films represent priests as morally pure, the cast of Silence reinforce the idea that men/women of the cloth are, first and foremost, human beings. In fact, they are often deeply troubled human beings, like us, who are prone to doubt and questioning. Whether it be our faith or trust in our identity, religion or political systems, we can often become shaken. These performances retract the pretension behind organised religion and re-establish the fact that even priests have crises of faith – a decision which ultimately humanizes them and prompted me to feel genuine empathy for these characters.

Silence not only marks the culmination of a 28 year endurance test for Martin Scorsese, but the certified maturation of an American auteur – one who no longer dances around questions of faith, but faces them head on, in a distinctly challenging, thrilling and profound cinematic experience.


Silence is out on DVD & Blu-Ray now! 

Nocturnal Animals – Review

by Scott Gentry

By day, Susan (Amy Adams) is the proprietor of an astounding art gallery, surrounded by a stifling intellectual atmosphere within the Los Angeles art scene. By night, she harbours intense and complex emotions concerning her past, possibly fuelling her increasingly aggravating disorder as an insomniac – one which is beginning to threaten her marriage to Hutton (Armie Hammer), who is no longer able to stand her frigid persona. Life itself, isn’t exactly following an idyllic template.

But the arrival of a thick manuscript (entitled “Nocturnal Animals”) prompts her to revisit the past, as it is the debut novel of her ex-husband, Edward (Jake Gyllenhaal), whom she divorced twenty years earlier. Tempted to discover what has become of Edward’s writing, Susan decides to spend her sleepless nights reading the manuscript, but soon discovers a narrative so disturbing, it rocks her to the core.

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An inherent absurdity lies at the heart of (fashion designer-cum-director) Tom Ford’s sophomore effort, entitled Nocturnal Animals. Within reality, this reviewer strongly doubts that many of the characters adapted from Austin Wright’s 1993 novel Tony and Susan, would ever behave in such an irrational manner. But upon suspending one’s disbelief, Nocturnal Animals became a deliciously twisted neo-noir – a concoction of sublime performances, stunning cinematography and arthouse intelligence, seldom seen in contemporary cinema. Yet, seemingly unanimous complaints regarding Ford’s directorial debut (uniquely affecting drama, A Single Man), spoke of him indulging within the mise en scène, rather than attempting to scratch beneath such a meticulously constructed surface. Upon speaking at a recent press conference whilst at the 2016 Venice Film Festival, Ford openly defended his stylistic flourishes, saying “Style always has to serve substance. Believe it or not, I am not just about style, especially in film-making. It has to be part of the storytelling… Stylistically, I never made a decision that didn’t relate to the story.”

In the case of Nocturnal Animals, Ford is true to his word, as he manages to strike a satisfying balance between arresting visuals and poignant substance. Yet, the film’s title sequence would hardly support that previous point. Meticulously designed in relation to style and undoubtedly gorgeous, the film greets audiences with a shocking series of nude, plus-size women, engaged within an intricate dance, as they stand upon podiums. Thankfully, method can be found amongst the apparent madness of the sequence, as the women are soon revealed to be part of an installation within an art gallery, owned by Susan. The inclusion of the women initially proved to be mildly irritating due to a sense of gratuity, but as the film itself advances towards such a jaw-dropping finale, it became immediately apparent that Ford has created art within art. Ford himself has revealed that all of the art featured within the film is real, in the sense that actual artists created it for the production – including the opening sequence. It is an intriguing stylistic choice, in the sense that meaning drawn throughout scenes featuring art pieces, is able to complement the film’s overall message.

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The film naturally lends itself to in-depth analysis shared amongst friends over a post-screening coffee, due to its many twists, turns and commentary upon various motifs. In particular, Ford hones in upon male masculinity, as he presents a large selection of men with varying characteristics, motives and attitudes. Gyllenhaal’s Edward is widely regarded as weak and frequently derided, as he is not able to defend himself emotionally, or perhaps physically. Whilst Shannon’s Bobby is a detective with guts, willing to achieve justice whatever the cost. On the other hand, Taylor-Johnson’s Ray is animalistic and sadistic in nature – The Master’s Freddie Quell, meets Hannibal Lecter. Yet, the film appears to encourage the idea that people should not question their DNA, but embrace who they were destined to be. The sooner society’s preconceived idea of who they are expected to be is discarded, the film’s characters (at the very least) experience a sense of contentment. But Ford also taps into obsession, as (without providing spoilers) he poignantly writes about what it is to love someone (“When you love someone, you have to be careful with it. You might never get it again.”), and unrequited love, whilst clearly signposting how easy it is to become obsessed with a person and the subsequent dangers of that.

Nocturnal Animals is ultimately a type of art which invites conversation surrounding its motifs, rather than settling for audience placidity. But it is a cast of truly remarkable talent, who solidify its themes. In particular, Amy Adams rejects her usual onscreen persona to portray a cold, but intelligent woman whose life choices cause her to be wracked with guilt. The performance is undeniably believable, as the reflective glances following various flashbacks speak volumes in regards to what the character herself is dealing with – dialogue is rarely required. Meanwhile, the ever reliable Michael Shannon portrays Bobby in an unpredictable manner, as he utilises his menacing presence at every given opportunity, frequently switching between friendly and deadly in fits of laughter, which at the flick of a switch, turn to intense rage.

Led by an outstanding ensemble cast comprised of contemporary cinema’s greatest discoveries, Ford’s Nocturnal Animals is an idiosyncratic revelation, accompanied by another outstanding score from Abel Korzeniowski, as he channels Bernard Herrmann’s greatest work. Whilst avoiding pretention by actively indulging within the schlock of poorly conceived thrillers, Ford’s screenplay then chooses to elevate an otherwise rote premise, imparting an insightful perspective upon masculinity and obsession, à la David Lynch. A suitably thrilling drama which exudes sexual tension and psychological complexity in abundance, but never compromises upon its intellect.


Nocturnal Animals is out on DVD & Blu-Ray now!