NOCTURNAL ANIMALS review

✭✭✭ | Nocturnal Animals

 

NOCTURNAL ANIMALS film review
Credit: Merrick Morton/Universal Pictures International

Tom Ford’s highly anticipated second film, Nocturnal Animals, is both brilliant and confusing, no thanks to its three stories in one arc.

 

Amy Adams is art dealer Susan Morrow (Amy Adams) who lives high above the Hollywood Hills in a seemingly loveless marriage to her philandering husband Hutton (Armie Hammer). One day she receives a book called Nocturnal Animals written by her ex-husband Edward Sheffield (Jake Gyllenhaal, in one of his best performances in years). It’s been 19 years since they broke up, well actually Susan broke it off with him, and she hadn’t heard or seen of him since then. So it’s bit unusual for her to receive a book from him, knowing that he’s been a struggling writer all his life. While her husband is away on one of his many business trips, she settles down to read the book. It’s then that Nocturnal Animals the book becomes a whole second movie, a second movie so brilliantly written, acted, and told that it should’ve been the movie that is Nocturnal Animals.

The book is a tale of revenge, rape and murder, brutal and in your face and it’s directed wholly at Susan. While it’s obvious it’s a work of fiction, it’s brutal and horrific. The book as we see play out tells the story of fictional character Tony (Gyllenhaal) with his wife Laura (Isla Fisher) along with what could be (or not) their daughter – this plot point is not very clear, driving in Texas when they’re menaced by a gang of rednecks led by Ray Marcus (Aaron Taylor-Johnson in a performance you will never forget which won him a Golden Globe Award). The menacing turns much much worse, but only towards the women, and it’s too much to give away here to explain what happens to them. Suffice it to say you will be on the edge of your seat while this story is unravelling. And Oscar-nominated Michael Shannon is the cop who is roped in to investigate the grizzly crime.

Nocturnal Animals also replays the beginning of the relationship between Susan and Edward – how they met on a New York City sidewalk, then had a loving relationship, only for Susan to drop him (it’s not clear why she leaves him).

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All of this is played out in just under two hours. Nocturnal Animals is a haunting romantic thriller with tension throughout, but it’s also a bit of a letdown after the brilliant A Single Man. Adams doesn’t have much to do except read the book in which the most exciting scenes of the film play out. A couple plot points are head scratching – a phone call Susan makes to her daughter – a real daughter or it she a hallucination due to Susan’s lack of sleep – (nocturnal), and Edward’s grudge for 19 long years – really? Nocturnal Animals is a movie that is so cruel and cynical, a story so much about disloyalty and especially about revenge, and it becomes very very violent and very very dark, and Ford dedicates it to his husband Richard and their son Zach. A bit narcissistic if you ask me.

Now available for Digital Download, Blu-Ray™ and DVD
From Universal Pictures Home Entertainment

BLU-RAYTM, DVD & DIGITAL BONUS FEATURES:
The Making of Nocturnal Animals – Amy Adams, Jake Gyllenhaal, Tom Ford, and other cast and filmmakers recount how they brought such a unique story to life including:
-Building the Story – Tom Ford and cast examine the central characters and how they fit into the story.
-The Look of Nocturnal Animals – Filmmakers and cast discuss how the cinematography and costumes give the film such a distinct and rich feel.
-The Filmmaker’s Eye: Tom Ford – See how Tom Ford’s attention to detail adds layers to the two interwoven stories at the center of the film.