Nocturnal Animals: Film Review

Nocturnal Animals is a difficult film to review because I’m not entirely sure if I made sense of it and understood the deeper meaning, but while it is an odd, intriguing and surprising film, it is without a doubt another triumph for the fashion designer and director Tom Ford, in his second only feature.

Amy Adams is Susan, an art gallery owner who is unhappy with her glossy, magazine-perfect life and marriage to second husband Walker (Armie Hammer). One day she receives the manuscript to her first husband Edward’s (Jake Gyllenhaal) novel, which stars himself as Tony Hastings, who has a wife (played by Isla Fisher) and daughter India (Ellie Bamber). In the story, the family are driving through the night in West Texas when they encounter three crazy guys led by Ray (Aaron Taylor-Johnson) who force them off the road, leave Tony stranded in the desert while they do horrible things to the women. As Susan reads the novel, about him bringing the criminals to justice with Detective Bobby Andes (Michael Shannon), she reflects back on their relationship.

This is essentially two overlapping films or like a film within a film and only Gyllenhaal appears in both. I devoured this story and I thought the screenplay, written by Ford, based on the novel Tony and Susan by Austin Wright, was incredible. It was so well written and featured lines of dialogue I could identify with, moments of hilarity plus some dark, really bleak parts. It’s such a mix, it’s handled so well and I was so engrossed in it all.

It also looks gorgeous in both scenarios from the high-fashion, luxurious lifestyle Susan leads and the gritty Texas desert the novel is set. I must also praise the performance of Adams, Gyllenhaal, Shannon and Taylor-Johnson as well as Laura Linney who makes serious impact as Susan’s Republican mother she is determined not to become.

The only downside is that the connection between the story and Susan and Edward’s relationship is open to interpretation and you know I hate that. I don’t know what he’s trying to say about their marriage with all the gruesome stuff which occurs in the novel. It is supposed to be nice and romantic or hateful and threatening? I couldn’t tell but one thing is for certain, it’s left me thinking about what it all means and I’ve been picking the brains of others to get their take. That is the mark of a good movie.

Seen as part of the 60th BFI London Film Festival. Released on Friday 4th November. 

SEE ALSO: Pictures from the Nocturnal Animals LFF premiere 

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  1. […] (Amy Adams) his manuscript, in which his fictional wife and daughter get kidnapped and murdered. Review can be found here. Out […]

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