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  • Warning: Spoilers
    Hello, dear reader - if by some miraculous coincidence you stumbled upon this review, hidden among others.

    This will actually be more of an analysis. Two friends had me explain WHAT THIS FILM WAS EVEN ABOUT when they saw I liked it on Facebook. I've also noticed that - as with many art-house movies -- reviews vary from "A masterpiece!" to "This is about NOTHING". I understand - a lot of films I myself don't get at all or I don't think they deserve the hype. "Nocturnal Animals" I get pretty well though, and I can tell you for sure it's not about nothing. So I'll share my thoughts.

    Spoilers ahead, read after you've watched the film.

    1. Who is Susan?

    This movie is best to watch putting yourself in Susan's shoes. You don't have to like her, but you have to understand her. That's especially important when it comes to analyzing Edward's book, since it's obvious that the events from the book that we see on-screen are filtered through her mind. We get drawn into the fictional world when she starts reading and come back whenever she stops.

    So, who is she? For me Susan is, first and foremost, a person who doesn't fit anywhere.

    She's pragmatic and cynical, and she knows it. She doesn't like it about herself though; rather she's resigned to accept it. So when as a grad student she bumps into Edward - her brother's childhood friend and her teenage crush -- who infectiously believes she can be more than that, she falls into his arms.

    One manifestation of what she escapes is the story of her brother. He's gay; their parents have practically disowned him; Susan hates them for it. She tells Edward that her brother once had a crush on him - his reaction: "I should call him more often". His different, soft, human approach is what draws her to him.

    On the other side stands Susan's mother. She's stern and dogmatic but she loves her child. She immediately knows that Susan and Edward aren't right for each other. She warns her daughter that "We all eventually turn into our mothers", and that when Susan's organized nature starts showing, she'll hurt Edward.

    Later it turns out she was right. Edward insists writing is his calling, but he isn't any good. Susan eventually stops believing in him. She needs stabilization. She leaves him for another man, Edward's complete opposite. She aborts Edward's child.

    But then it turns out she suffocates in her new neat life, too. Her only constant: she doesn't fit. Whomever she's with, she suffers from insomnia (the "nocturnal animal", Edward once called her).

    These are the opposites Susan fluctuates between: chaos and order; Edward's softness and pragmatism that runs in her blood.

    2. The book. What does Edward say to Susan? However Susan understands the book is indicative of what she thinks Edward wants to communicate with it. So it hints at what happened between them in the past, a lot earlier than the film actually spells it out. Prepare to watch Susan's reactions and then put the puzzles together through her flashbacks.

    Only after seeing the end do you realize what game Edward was playing all along.

    He gave the book a title that was their private joke, then dedicated it to Susan. She knew the book was about him -- he'd never stopped "writing about himself" when they were together. (That's why she saw Tony as Edward and why Gyllenhaal played both roles).

    Edward knew Susan felt guilty for what she's done. For a long time after she must have identified Tony's family harassers as the eponymous animals - her counterparts in the book - he kept her uncertain of their intentions. Will they hurt the family? Will they leave them alone? Finally, they killed them, as Susan destroyed her and Edward's relationship and aborted their child. Edward portrayed Tony's grief, letting Susan know: "Here's what you did to me". Then he expanded on Ray Marcus -- a mindless psychopath -- sending the message: "Here's what you are to me now". Finally, Tony kills Ray and dies himself, which means: "Writing this killed me, but at least now you're dead too".

    Edward's revenge might seem childish. But it shows what power those once-close hold over each other. Edward doesn't have to spell it all out to Susan. She knows she hurt him once and he knows that she knows. He knows that what gives her some peace is the thought that perhaps, with time, he forgave her, or at least understood. He takes that comfort from her.

    What did Susan do? She left a man she wasn't compatible with. She aborted a baby she didn't want. Whatever your personal opinion of it is doesn't matter; that's not the point. The point is that such things people live with. But Susan now has to live with more than that: the knowledge that she made a person she once loved suffer for the next 20 years. Suffer enough to regret his own softness and humanity (Tony's qualities that made the murder possible). Enough to turn into a man she didn't recognize anymore and to write a book just to make her suffer in turn.

    3. The ending.

    I've seen people write THERE IS NO ENDING AT ALL.

    What happens in the end is this: Edward and Susan arrange for a dinner to discuss the book; she comes and waits; he never appears.

    It might seem anti-climatic; but if you were in Susan's place, I guarantee you wouldn't say so. She realizes she'll never be absolved; that the worst possible interpretation of Edward's book was the intended one; that this story will soon be published. Maybe become a bestseller. Her past has caught up with her.

    Thank you for reading and have a great day :)
  • Warning: Spoilers
    I think IMDb doesn't give a good synopsis for Nocturnal Animals. So I'm going to give it a shot. A lot of people were disappointed with the ending, but you have to think about it for awhile to realize it's a sort of poetic/philosophical movie. The whole time everyone's telling Edward he's weak and sensitive. So he writes a book for his ex wife. In the book his wife and daughter are murdered by these terrible hooligans and the whole time he's trying to get revenge. He does and then immediately dies. Because of how well the book is written, his ex wife starts getting feelings for him again and reaches out to meet him. He stands her up and it ends. That's the movie. Sounds average. But break it down. The book is him getting stronger; it's not his wife and daughter getting murdered, it's Edward's weakness dying and his ex wife would be the murderers giving him reasons to get stronger. In the book, he spends time mourning and fantasizing about revenge. He finally gets his revenge and accidentally kills himself. How perfect is that? A part of Edward had to die to get over his ex and he wanted her to know. Now she finally wants him again and he's orchestrated this entire book/plan to just stand her up and prove that she's the weak one. Kind of a lot to process and maybe sounds cheesy, but I thought it was a good time.
  • Listen, I'm not a movie guru, I don't study arts, I'm just your average Joe that loves movies. I've seen lots of movies, I don't discriminate, terror, drama, action, animated you name it, I can perfectly differentiate between a bad from a good movie, I don't need the biased comments of the so called movie critics on IMDb. Thanks God I didn't pay attention to all the misguided comments about this movie, Nocturnal Animals is a beautiful & stylish movie, great photography, solid acting and a solid plot that will stay with you long after you finish it. I don't understand why there's so much envy and hate in the film industry, the wannabe movie critics can't take that a guy who came from the fashion world actually can created a pretty good movie. My fellow reader, please don't miss the chance to see this movie.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    An L.A. art gallery owner who's beautiful, affluent and seemingly successful is surprised to find herself miserable, disillusioned and unfulfilled. Intriguingly, about this time, she receives the manuscript of her ex-husband's debut novel and when she reads it and recognises its metaphorical nature, becomes consumed by feelings of guilt, regret and the desire to meet up again with the man who was her first crush.

    Susan Morrow (Amy Adams) and Edward Sheffield (Jake Gyllenhaal) had fallen in love as students in New York and the idealistic couple later married despite the opposition of Susan's mother who considered Edward to be unsuitable because he lacked the necessary ambition and drive to be a good provider. Susan, at this time, detested her mother's preoccupation with materialism but later in the marriage, became frustrated at Edward's lack of success as a novelist and broke up their relationship because she considered him to be too weak and not a very good writer.

    Edward's novel is a revenge thriller about a family of three who are driving along a West Texas highway at night when they get terrorized by a gang of vicious thugs, two of whom, kidnap Tony Hastings' (Jake Gyllenhaal) wife Laura (Isla Fisher) and teenage daughter India (Ellie Bamber), while the third gang member takes Tony to a remote spot in the desert where he leaves him stranded. Later, local detective Bobby Andes (Michael Shannon) is assigned to the case and together the two men eventually discover the bodies of Laura and India who had both been raped and murdered. Tony, who is portrayed as a rather weak man, becomes obsessed with the need to wreak vengeance on all the gang members and with Andes' assistance, does so very effectively.

    As she's reading, Susan reflects on the cruel way in which she ended her first marriage by cheating on Edward and secretly having an abortion when she was carrying his child. She also recalls him saying that "when you love someone, you work it out. Don't just throw it away. You have to be careful with it. You may never get it again". In the years since their divorce, she has learned that those words were true and that her choice of opting for materialism over love was misguided. She also recalls him saying, after she'd been denigrating his work, that "nobody writes about anything but themselves". This makes his story about a man who was driven to revenge following the loss of the woman and child that he loved even more poignant and moves her to respond positively to his suggestion that they meet up to discuss his book. This reconciliation, however, doesn't materialise in the way that she had expected it might.

    Based on Austin Wright's 1993 novel "Tony and Susan", this absorbing psychological drama is incredibly stylish, well paced and a visual treat. The ways in which the action slips back and forth between different periods of Susan's relationship with Edward and the events described in his novel are also masterfully done so that the coherence of the whole story and its natural momentum are beautifully maintained throughout.

    The entire production is well acted with Amy Adams and Jake Gyllenhaal faultless in their lead roles and Michael Shannon and Aaron Taylor-Johnson (as the leader of the thugs in Edward's book) providing very strong supporting performances. There's also a wonderful cameo featuring Laura Linney as Susan's mother which makes an incredible impact, especially considering its very short duration.
  • Easily the best film I have seen this year. Great performance by all the actors, fantastic plot with a lot of deep meaning and a very atmospheric soundtrack. It's a very unique film. It reminds me of Basic Instinct but without the sex and drugs. It looks like a 90s masterpiece brought from back in time, a solid prove that Tom Ford is a great director.

    True love comes once in a lifetime, and we rarely get a second chance. This film is about revenge and personal progress in life, Its about how the decisions of the past can haunt our lives in the future and how the pain we cause to others always comes back to us. This movie sends a strong message to the people who easily give up on other people and never give them a fair chance to shine.

    I can't understand why some people rated this movie 1/10, just the performance of the actors and the soundtrack of the film should be enough to give it a solid 5.
  • This movie is a vast improvement on the book it was based on, it is much more piercing, intelligent and distilled with some brilliant additions. Cinematography is outstanding, movie is atmospheric and highly stylized, reminiscent of the best works of Hitchcock and Kubrick, with great attention to minute details - deliberate style that comes across as natural, but only on second examination is revealed as extremely deep and thoughtful.

    The movie is concerned with Susan, an upper class woman married into wealth, that has since begun to crumble, who leads an empty life, that is falling apart, as she is unloved and deeply unhappy. She receives a novel, written by her ex-husband, who she cruelly abandoned as he was not able to provide the luxury she now lives in, being a "weakling" as a young aspiring writer, in estimation of her overbearing mother. The novel is about some scary rednecks destroying a man's family, after pushing their car off road. It turns out there are clear parallels between the redneck monsters in the story within a story and her actions, driven by her inner selfish monstrosity and cynical and rich mother but with the exact sophistication of an average redneck psychopath. Shattered to the core, after reading the book, she invites her ex to a dinner but is left waiting, and realizes sadly that she is never going to be forgiven, that hell is eternal and that her empty existence now is a karmic payback that she very well deserved for her past shallow choices and selfish crimes.

    The movie portrays some of the issues that are in fact pretty common, and the movie is partly underappreciated due to not fitting in the woke-hysteria that was just starting to boil at the time of movie release. But objectively, it is one hell of a masterpiece of sophisticated storytelling, that also carries a message about consequences of the wrong choices people make in life.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    I did have to watch this movie a couple of times, not least to overcome the quite horrific opening sequence. That said, what was initially (to me) a slightly confusing but fabulously portrayed story, I am now able to understand the respective tragedy between the characters in the book, and the symbolism therein in lives of Susan and Edward. It is quite brilliantly deployed. Tom Ford yes, Michael Shannon etc, all deservingly nodded for awards, but this has to be one of Jake G's finest performances, so why no accolades? Big Theory Spoiler Alert. A very decent man loses his wife and child to the cruel intentions of another indecent man. Grief, remorse retold through a horrendous symbolic story that is understood and shared by Susan. So why didn't he turn up? The original Susan had already died.
  • Nocturnal Animals is a dark and devilishly stylish thriller from Tom Ford, who knows a thing or two about style having worked as creative director for both Gucci and Yves Saint Lauren in the past. It could have been in danger of being a case of style over substance however, Ford's perfectionism makes this one of the most powerful films I've seen all year.

    Susan Morrow (Amy Adams) is an art gallery owner who spends most of her life at home alone, with her husband often out of town on business. When Susan receives a manuscript to a novel written by her ex-husband, Edward Sheffield (Jake Gyllenhaal), she finds herself immediately engrossed.

    As Susan continues to read the novel, she has flashbacks to how her relationship with Edward broke down as well as thoughts that the violent thriller is a veiled threat against her from Edward.

    I didn't know what to expect from Nocturnal Animals as I hadn't seen any trailers and Ford's film ended up blowing me away. The way Ford tells the story showcases how inventive and powerful he is as a filmmaker, the narratives of both Susan's life and Edward's novel combining brilliantly and leaving me in a trance like state.

    Edward's novel provides the film with its dark soul, the story of Tony Hastings (also played by Jake Gyllenhaal) and his family who run into trouble when travelling through the night on the road to their country home. It's pretty heavy stuff but it plays an essential part in making this such powerful viewing.

    This is a gorgeous film to look at as well, Seamus McGarvey's cinematography echoing the story's bleakness and the brutality of Edward's supposed veiled threat to Susan. The combination of the visuals with Abel Korzeniowski's dream-like score heightens the sense of escapism felt by Susan as she reads Edward's novel.

    Coming to the performances, Nocturnal Animals features a very impressive ensemble cast all at the top of their game. Amy Adams yet again proves why she's one of the most versatile actresses with a performance that combines the assurance of an art gallery owner with the vulnerability of someone who knows they've made mistakes in their past. With this and Arrival out in the coming months, expect to see Adams get some form of recognition come the awards season, maybe for both.

    Adams is joined by Jake Gyllenhaal, who takes on dual roles yet again for this film. Gyllenhaal has really grown as an actor, particularly in the last five years, and its great to see him continue that in Nocturnal Animals, more notably in the role of Tony Hastings, a creation of his other character Edward.

    The rest of the cast features a scene stealing Michael Shannon, who I've really grown to appreciate these last few years, a career best performance from Aaron Taylor-Johnson, who is truly vile as the villainous Ray, and Laura Linney who, even in the short space of time we see her, makes one hell of an impact.

    I cannot speak highly enough of Nocturnal Animals, a stylish thriller that has more than enough substance to it. I will definitely be checking out Tom Ford's A Single Man after this and I sure as hell hope we see more work from Ford in the future.
  • That's some terrifying stuff right there! Fashion designer Tom Ford has written and directed his second movie, a multifaceted revenge thriller which is even better than his first, 2009's "A Single Man".

    Both are visually stylish, of course, which is expected from fashion guru, both have interesting premise and good actors, and both have this cold, unsettling atmosphere which tries to keep the viewer at some distance.

    In short, Ford has managed to take everything good from his solid debut project and bring it to the next level with "Nocturnal Animals". It's more lively, gripping, effortlessly cool and deeper.

    There are two stories, interwined in a way which may make viewers wonder whether it's real or imagined by the character. But it is ambiguous in a best possible way, not trying to f--k with our minds and then leave us hanging.

    An unhappily married woman (Amy Adams) thinks she wants his first husband (Jake Gyllenhaal) back. And she reads his novel, a violent thriller, which seems like a revenge tale. And then things get more, er, complex.

    On-screen events are exciting already but Ford the writer turns out surprisingly skillful at making it even varied, without getting stuck or losing steam, or letting us think that we know where all this ends up. He even playfully takes jabs at his main fashion job and the lifestyle and personal sacrifices that come with it.

    And the whole result really makes you feel something for the characters, unlike many of the thrillers that only manage to arouse the viewer during their best bits.

    It's not mostly about Adams and Gyllenhaal. There is a number of smaller but important characters and cool performances. We have Michael Shannon, Aaron Taylor-Johnson, Isla Fisher, Armie Hammer, Michael Sheen, Laura Linney.

    The cast is good enough reason to watch it. Everybody adds something worthwhile to the experience, even Sheen and Fisher and especially Linney who all have rather small roles used to move the story along.

    Shannon brings his usual magnetic mix of cool and creepy. Gyllenhaal manages to move between having balls and ball-less state without turning unbelievable or too heroic. Taylor-Johnson as the bad guy even got a Golden Globe for his work (the only one for the movie although Tom Ford got nominated for both best movie / drama and adapted screenplay). He really deserves it, he is evil at its most subtle and delicious. Delicious to watch, I mean.

    But I am especially happy about Amy Adams who is often used in the movies as just a pretty face or supporting woman. In 2016, she has had two strong roles, in a thinking man's sci-fi "Arrival", and now this.

    Her screen time may be limited but she surely makes the most of it, captivatingly playing out both worlds that the character has hiding inside her. I believed her both as a lively young woman and the jaded older one that's missing all the ideals that she had decided to throw away long time ago.

    Based on a novel by Austin Wright which Ford wanted to adapt into two movies initially, one true to original, the other not so much. I am not sure which way he chose ultimately but what a ride, eh?

    PS No, I am not giving 9 out of 10 to every movie I watch from now on. The last three have been just some of 2016's best of the best.
  • At the outset, i should make it clear that i don't think this is a bad film, but i felt the need to add a dissenting voice to the collection of positive reviews that i've read so far.

    The film is an amalgamation of elements that should work beautifully, but ultimately resembles one of the sterile offerings to be found in Susan's gallery. The acting is superb throughout, and the nuanced performances of Amy Adams & Jake Gyllenhaal are worthy of their reputations. The subtle transitions from dead and lifeless to young and vibrant, exhibited by the former at various stages of the film, is one of the most striking features of the piece. The film is beautifully shot and well directed, and there are some truly moving scenes in parts. However, as one reviewer has already alluded to, the film feels like it is desperate to say something, but ultimately says very little. Perhaps i just didn't get it at all.

    The problem i had was with a lack of emotional connection to either of the main protagonists. It's interesting to find out what happens to both as the film builds, but ultimately i didn't care either way.

    My partner and i spent some time examining the film on the way home, discussing the parallels between the story at the heart of the film, and the realities that continue around it, but despite our rudimentary analysis of what each one meant for the other, and an understanding that there are some clever parallels, what remained was the underlying sense of "so what?".
  • The second film from designer turned directory Tom Ford was not just a visual masterpiece but had great narrative. The plot of the movie which is three narratives combined into one and tells the story of Susan Morrow (Amy Adams) an art gallery owner who receives a manuscript of her ex-husband's (Jake Gyllenhaal) thriller novel dedicated to her. The way that the story was told was bold, strange and very unique to me. Even though a movie with three narratives might sound clumsy but it wasn't, the stories of different time lines did not overlap each other rather it made the story complete with showing different aspects of the characters.

    Aaron Taylor-Johnson's performance as Ray Marcus was definitely my favorite, he was so creep and repulsive to watch. The brilliant Michael Shannon was also in this movie as Bobby Andes with great Oscar worthy performance. Overall, I loved this movie for it's visual look and appeal of it's leading characters. While I was watching the movie I liked Tom Ford's directing style, storytelling, cinematography and after watching it I started to think about it while connecting the dots between the different narratives and it easily became my favorite movie to think about. If you really like movies that makes you think and eventually re-watch them over again then this movie is for you.
  • So I just Finished Nocturnal Animals and to put as bluntly as possible I absolutely loved it and it might end up being one of my top 10 favorite movie of the year. Well it's basically two movies in one. One half appeals to my lust for grim blood soaked, dark genre fare while the other half plays like an interpersonal glossy drama that's just as compelling. Both feel as if they could hold entire films in their own right and grabbed me till the very end. It's much better if you go in cold so I won't really say much more but if you love a good thriller, crime drama or just good film making in general and it's playing near you please do yourself a favor and let Mr Tom Ford take you on a trip through some movie magic.
  • Raven-196926 September 2016
    With a sudden thump on the window a wild bird is stunned. It is reduced to a heap of feathers and a barely beating heart. Through fantastic imagery, talented and stylish actors at the top of their game, an amazing and fastidious director, and an enthralling and thrilling story, the characters in the film go through transformations similar to that of the dazed bird. So did I. The film resonated deeply with me. "I just can't do this anymore." I was shocked with this line that was said to me in the same situation and manner.

    Despite her wealth and ownership of a Los Angeles art gallery, Susan (Amy Adams) is troubled by the absences and indifference of her husband. She unexpectedly receives a manuscript from Tony (Jake Gyllenhaal), her long estranged ex-husband. Passages from the manuscript contain eerie parallels to her past and present life. Reality is strangely infused into the story line. As Susan reads, memories and emotions come flooding back. She struggled with unhappiness then. Despite significant life changes, she still struggles with it. She let go of a good man, yet maybe because she needed to. This is what she tells herself.

    In Ford's stellar and meticulously made film, even side conversations have substance and pictures on walls are connected to the story line. Certain scenes alone make the film worth watching. This includes an unorthodox interrogation by actor Michael Shannon. Shannon is extremely ruthless and convincing. Laura Linney appears as Susan's mother. She is even more brutal, in her own way, than Shannon. In a separate flashback scene, where all that is heard is a heartbeat, I was spellbound. The unexpected ending, the even more surprising opening, the twists and turns, and depth of the film, thrilled and delighted me. Tom Ford's background in the design industry is apparent in the spectacular lighting, stylish clothes and sophisticated dialogue. In the second showing of the film in North America, Ford received a standing ovation. I stood too. I loved listening to him talk and teasing people in the front row for distracting him with their cell phone cameras. His theme; do not let go of love if and when you find it. Seen at the Toronto International Film Festival.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    This movie really left us a strong message that materialism is not beyond anything. You might be rich, leading posh life, having servants, doing business but your love life is entirely null and void. I mean what's the point to lead a life when you've everything yet nothing! Amazing plot, different taste. Jake Gyllenhaal, Michael Shannon really played their best. Highly recommend to watch, kind of cliffhanger ending, will make your mind ambiguous, suspicious.
  • pkollmeier12 August 2019
    9/10
    Wow
    I fell into this movie not really knowing a thing about it. A friend told me to watch it and I went for it. I'm so glad that I did. For starters, the score is amazing. It really has a way of putting you in a mood and refusing to let go.

    From the onset of the movie, we see an unhappy Susan in her unhappy life with her handsome husband in a luxurious and over-the-top home. These material goods bring her no joy and we can see that her life is in shambles.

    As the movie progresses, we start to see why. I don't want to spoil this one. It's best to go in blind and let the movie do what it does best. With one of the most tense scenes I've seen in years, Ford and Editor Joan Sobel pull off a masterpiece with dual storytelling aspects that had me deeply invested in both storylines up until the very end of the film.

    Give this one a watch but prepare to really have your mind open up into some places I never knew it could go.
  • While lamenting on her life, well-to-do art gallery owner Susan Morrow is startled to receive the manuscript of a novel written by her ex-husband Edward Sheffield, an aspiring writer with whom she's been estranged for several years. Upon reading his story she's quickly captivated by the intensity and raw emotion of the writing, and soon begins to ponder over her past actions. Gripping, murky, and suspenseful psychological thriller pulls you in and never lets go, with many haunting scenes that explore various underlying themes like revenge, regret, and betrayal, made all the more believable by the searing performances of a perfectly chosen cast--Shannon and Taylor-Johnson standing out in particular. Lots of startling moments, along with skillful direction and editing make this a potent piece of work. ***
  • What a marvellous film. Whilst the use of the flashbacks and the intertwining 'book within the movie' metaphor isn't that earth shattering, it's pulled off here immaculately and with fair precision.In a different film, it could have become easily muddled without the same handling. Ever regret messing up or squandering what could have been the love of your life at some point in your life? That's where this film smarts and hurts and reaches its true poignancy. I'd say it will touch a lot of nerves and whilst it can't be felt as a happy or uplifting film, it's skill and it's power to move is hard to deny. Is it a back roads revenge thriller, a morality tale, a sad torch song of unrequited and lost love...? Or maybe it just bears a single message: Love the one you're with.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    Tom Ford's Nocturnal Animals (adapted from the novel Tony and Susan by Austin Wright) is the kind of film that's great enough when you experience it, but gets even better when you think about it afterwards. Having seen it, I feel a second viewing may be rewarding if you want to understand it fully and sufficiently appreciate all the subtle touches of its presentation. My third viewing will simply be because I loved it.

    Nocturnal Animals tells its story through several layers. Susan Morrow (Amy Adams) is a Los Angeles-based artist with her own gallery and a wealthy spouse with more looks than personality (Armie Hammer, as it were). A package reaches her office one day, sent by her ex-husband, a struggling writer named Edward Sheffield, containing a first draft of his first proper novel. For whatever reason, he has dedicated this thriller to Susan, even using his old nickname for her as its title - a "nocturnal animal", he would call her.

    The book opens on Tony Hastings (played by Jake Gyllenhaal) as he is driving through the Texas desert by night with his wife and child (Isla Fisher and Ellie Bamber). They have an increasingly nasty encounter with a bunch of redneck types, bossed around by the utterly unhinged Ray Marcus (Aaron Taylor-Johnson in what must be the greatest performance he will ever give). He and his goons first pry Tony off the road with their vehicle, and then offer to change one of his busted tires for him in what Glenn Kenny referred to as "one of the most discomfortingly suspenseful sequences in a Hollywood film since Blue Velvet". The fact that it achieves this in spite of being (we assume) in-Universe fiction speaks volumes about Ford's abilities as a filmmaker, not to mention the performances.

    The altercation ends with Tony being separated from his family and left on his own in the middle of the desert. He manages to make his way to a small town and enlist the help Detective Bobby Andes (a stupendously entertaining Michael Shannon) to track down Marcus and his crew, but he soon finds out that there isn't a happy end to this tale as the tale itself turns into one of cold revenge. Outside of said tale, more side characters exist, such as Susan's disapproving mother played by Laura Linney, an artsy fashion disaster played by Jena Malone, and Zawe Ashton as a colleague of Susan's who is too young to relate to Susan's sudden feelings of having wasted her life.

    In addition to the scenes set "in reality" and the parts that take place in Edward's story, flashbacks from Edward and Susan's time together start to appear as soon as Susan begins reading. There are numerous visual parallels between the narratives, which speaks to a larger thematic connection between the story of Tony and that of Edward's history with Susan. Some of the scenes also involve shifts in tone and style - even genre - but it his handled with such prodigious skill that it never once feels jarring.

    One of the most remarkable scenes in this movie, however, is its opening sequence, wherein a collection of nude, insanely overweight women are dancing seductively in slow-motion as a beautiful score plays and confetti rains over them. This is, of course, a part of Susan's art installation, but its effect is very much felt by observers outside of the film's universe. When we exited the theater, my brother wondered if this intro was meant to be a straightforward defiance of societal beauty norms or if it was rather a critique on "feminist propaganda" (the latter of which would have been more to his liking) and thus probably also a critique on provocative artists like Susan. Whatever the intent, I can admit to being mildly put off and befuddled at first, but quickly began to marvel at how visible uncomfortable all the other attendees at the screening were. In a strange way I admired it, and I knew the tone was set for the impending experience.

    The film is also so delicate and meticulous in the way it looks. From all the subtleties in Amy Adams' no less than Oscar-worthy performance to the clothes that her character chooses to wear at a given moment (Need I mention that Tom Ford is a fashion designer?), the character of Susan Morrow alone is the result of intricate, grade A craftsmanship. Her co-stars are at least equally resplendent, and they are shot and lit with the grace of someone who truly knows a thing or two about eye-pleasing aesthetics. Some of the scenes set within Edward's book do come off as a bit amateurish, but I feel as if there's purpose behind it.

    Nocturnal Animals is precise, beautiful, oftentimes shocking, briefly funny at the right times (thanks in no small part to Taylor-Johnson and Shannon), wonderfully depressing, and told to us with intricacy and cleverness. Its "story-within-a-story plus something else" structure made me think of Aronofsky's The Fountain, but I have a feeling more people will appreciate how it's done by Tom Ford.
  • While the movie starts very disturbing at the beginning, you get a first feeling of what the story is going to let you feel: sadness/anger/empathy. I watched a lot films of Gyllenhall, since he became one of my favourite Actor, and this was the reason I decided to watch this movie.

    As the movie goes on, you had this idea of ,,hell I had to concentrate myself of not loosing the sight for what is fiction and what is Reality. Gyllenhall and Adams play their roles really great. But I must recommend that this movie has a high abstract level, so I can understand the many reviews of 1-3 stars for it. You only see what you know!!!! You definitely have to think a lot... all in all it's definitely a movie worth watching.
  • It's all about vengence creativity and sorrow and the ending can be interpreted in so many ways , a good show
  • dodolazza20 June 2020
    Warning: Spoilers
    The leitmotif of Nocturnal Animals was quite clear to me: revenge. I know films are often misunderstood or over-analyzed, but I think this interpretation might have a point. He (Edward played by Jack Gyllenhaal) never accepted being treated/viewed as a weak person by his now ex-wife (Susan played by Amy Adams), she indeed couldn't truly believe in him becoming a successful/prolific writer. What he did is really clear: he created a fictional family that resembles what they were before divorce and show through the novel what being truly weak means, and he did that by displaying a man totally unable to protect his wife and daughter, and who hasn't enough courage to revenge them. It's like the message of the novel was:"If you think I was weak, look at this man" and he did that by writing a haunting novel. The scene when she drops her colleague's phone has a painting in the background with a writing: REVENGE, basically what drove him writing the book. In the end, I was quite surprised finding out this was written and directed by Tom Ford, I'd like to see more works like this one.
  • On a bit of a Jake binge, that led me here. You also cant go wrong with Amy Adams. Plus Jenna Malone if you are a fan of the amazing Neon Demon.

    The story revolves around a novel containing a fairly OTT crime, but one that leaves room for visually compelling scene-setups. I like how the novel unfolds over several years, and ties in with the regrets over the decisions that the Amy Adams character made over her life. The analogies between her loveless, vacuous and empty life and the novel are pretty apparent.

    This is a very compelling film with a very haunting ending. Well worth a watch. Its pretty tough viewing at times though
  • vinylvanilla22 December 2016
    Warning: Spoilers
    What can I say about this movie? I think it's overrated, over-hyped, and overpraised. I believe media loves this movie because they're actually praising Tom Ford the stylist, not Tom Ford the filmmaker.

    The movie undeniably has good qualities - beautiful cinematography, lavish costume design, amazing cast (Michael Shannon's performance is flawless and deserves an Academy Award).

    However, the screen script is weak, pretentious and childish. The book written by Tony Hastin looks more interesting than the movie itself. I don't understand the need to tell a story inside a story when the main story line is weak, full of clichés and unconvincing.

    The love story between Susan and Edward didn't convince me at all. It all seemed very poorly developed, the flashback moments were cold, they always seemed like two teenagers speaking - no substance, no deepness, nothing that Tom Ford's target audience would expect, I believe.

    Edward's little plot of revenge is absurdly childish, also laughable. That's why the character is not convincing to me. It's all absurdly immature.

    Honestly, I believe Tom Ford was more worried about making a visually impacting movie than actually a good one. He has yet a lot to learn about what is necessary to be a good filmmaker.
  • movieed118 January 2017
    Warning: Spoilers
    I don't understand all the negative reviews. I think the movie had an interesting concept, I enjoyed the acting and the set design, lighting, etc. I enjoyed the suspense of the novel as we went along with Amy Adam's character, but somehow the movie left me cold and hanging in the end. I guess I would have liked closure, but life is not like that. The novel within the movie kept me on the edge of my seat, great sound and music. Amy's character seemed so lost and desperately reaching out paralleling the Main character in the Novel, but like him, she ended alone cold and 'dead' in her own way. I enjoyed the ride, however but I felt empty in the end. Perhaps that was the goal of the director. Well told, well acted and held one's attention to the end...or at least mine!
  • Warning: Spoilers
    Unfortunately, Nocturnal Animals was completely unbelievable right from the beginning, with dialog that seemed written by a machine. Given the 'novel' idea, that might have been excused, but all the dialog in the supposed 'real world' was just as bad. The only actor able to shine through this pretentious crap was Michael Shannon, but after a time his character just disappeared from the story. And what was Michael Sheen doing in this movie? And the nude fat dancers? It really added up to nothing. And oh my goodness, what a payback for leaving a man and aborting his child: He got her to go to a dinner meeting AND DIDN'T SHOW UP! Wow! Now that's payback in a BIG WAY! Sorry, but this exercise in audience manipulation was a real disappointment after A Single Man.
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