Nocturnal Animals

Film, Drama
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  • 4 out of 5 stars
(17user reviews)
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Nocturnal Animals

Jake Gyllenhaal plays a writer who creates a fictional world to torture his ex-wife Amy Adams in fashion designer Tom Ford's cynical thriller

A novelist gets his own back on his ex-wife in the way he knows best - via fiction - in Tom Ford's high-gloss psychological thriller set in the uber-rich LA art world. It's the fashion designer's second movie after his 2009 debut 'A Single Man', and this is a far more ambitious film, with its sprawling cast, various periods, layered storytelling and musings on life and art. But it's also far less endearing and coherent, and feels almost unbearably cruel and cynical.

Susan (Amy Adams) is a successful gallery manager who's no longer passionate about her work, living out a loveless marriage to Walker (Armie Hammer) in a stark modernist palace. She receives a novel called 'Nocturnal Animals' from her ex-husband, Edward (Jake Gyllenhaal). As she reads the book we see it play out, alongside scenes of Susan and Edward's life together, back when he was an aspiring writer. In the novel's story, Gyllenhaal plays Tony, a man on a road trip in Texas with his wife (Isla Fisher) and teen daughter (Ellie Bamber). They're attacked at night by three men, provoking the film's most confident sequence as Tony has to face up to what this tragic event says about his own masculinity and power.

'Nocturnal Animals' is blessed by remarkable photography by Seamus McGarvey ('Atonement'), who does exquisite work with barren rural vistas and soulless cityscapes. But Ford's script, adapted from the Austin Wright novel 'Tony and Susan', fails to get to grips with the psychological complexities suggested by the story, swerving oddly in its focus and tone. It leaves Susan behind for long stretches, while the Cormac McCarthy-esque story-within-a-story plays out without pushing deeply enough into Edward's motivations as an author or Susan's responses as a reader. Surely this section should feel like more of a Hitchcockian dream than it does? Certainly, Gyllenhaal looks adrift as the fictional Tony, resorting far too often to hysterics.

A stream of grotesque or slyly comic side players (including a welcome Michael Shannon as a coughing cop) offer distractions from the film's emotional core. Most poorly served is Susan, ostensibly the film's chief interest but ultimately the chief victim of its hollow claim that those who don't indulge or adore artists are somehow superficial and undeserving of compassion. Adams is certainly a haunting presence, and it's hard to fault her work. But it's tough to play a fully human character when the film viciously accuses that same character of being dead behind the eyes. For 'Nocturnal Animals', it's a criticism that's very close to home.

By: Dave Calhoun

Posted:

Release details

Rated: 117
Release date: Friday November 4 2016
Duration: 115 mins

Cast and crew

Director: Tom Ford
Screenwriter: Tom Ford
Cast: Isla Fisher
Jake Gyllenhaal
Amy Adams

Average User Rating

3.7 / 5

Rating Breakdown

  • 5 star:7
  • 4 star:5
  • 3 star:0
  • 2 star:3
  • 1 star:2
LiveReviews|17
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tastemaker

The movie starts great, but then I must say I was a little bored throughout. Sort of just waiting for it to end. It did have an interesting connections in the plot that made you think. Recommend if you like dramas and horrors.

tastemaker

Nocturnal Animals is a glamorous film, but extremely dark with a romantic twist. Everything about the film just oozes Tom Ford's style.

I was very excited to see this and it didn't disappoint me at all. Tom Ford has done a tremendous job with Nocturnal Animals.

I felt his presence, his demeanour of good taste and his fashion.

It did start off a little slow, as I didn't really know what was going on. It had this old American feel to the quality of the image. The film had a very dark setting, but with a dramatic atmosphere.

It is pure glamour and pure luxury at its best.

I absolutely adored the house at the beginning where Amy Adams who plays 'Susan Morrow' lived with her husband Armie Hammer who plays 'Walker Morrow'.

Did anyone notice the massive balloon structure placed outside by the swimming pool in the beginning. If I'm not mistaken, I'm sure it's a Jeff Koons piece.

Loved the house, it's definitely a dream house.

I adored Amy Adams posture and poise in Nocturnal Animals. She didn't really show much expression, but she had that dark quality to her that brought this thoughtful, yet glamorous character to life.

The fashion in the film were to die for of course. Tom Ford gave us a thrilling and an intense story of life and dark romance.

Adams is an art gallery owner that becomes strongly consumed by her ex-husbands novel that he wrote for her. He is played by Jake Gyllenhaal who plays 'Edward Sheffield'.

He scares her in way unexplainable with the novel that he named after her.

She's become so intoxicated by the novel that she starts to imagine and create visions in her mind. We as the viewer see the vigorous scenes that Tom Ford creates in this captivating, exhilarating drama.

I felt like everything she had to live for was a lie. She was alone and couldn't sleep.

She looked incomplete and wasn't sure of what was going to happen.

I believe that it's a film to see in detail. Tom Ford is definitely a dark horse.

Spend an evening and you'll see.

#TOTastemaker

Love MD.

Tastemaker

This a dark and gritty but incredibly well crafted film from Tom Ford. The trailer offers a really good summary of the film and so is well worth a watch (above) if you haven't seen it, to tempt you into seeing it. A lot of the film, especially the hijacking scene feel incredibly real, and the cinematography through is stunning.


This is a really scarey film because the attack scene and the emotional aftermath are so realistic. In general, the film looks fabulous and the soundtrack is great. I can't believe it has such a bad review from Time Out but maybe people don't like the subliminally anti-materialistic message of the film... or simply hope it ain't true!! 


I was a HUGE fan of this film. I thought it was clever, beautiful and totally gripping. Definitely a must see in my opinion.


Pure garbage that makes you wonder what the main story actually is. The music is great but otherwise I wish I could get the 120 minutes back. And of course, Tom Ford had to sprinkle his bigotry, intolerance and hate throughout the movie. Dont waste your time and money on this crap.

Tastemaker

Wow, wow, wow.


This film is a great cinematic and acting achievement. 


It essentially weaves 3 stories together - the present day souless life of the main character, her reminiscing and reliving her youthful relationship and the tremendously dark, taut story of 'the novel'. 


The talent and attention needed to carry off each of those threads in itself is worthy of congratulations. The gut wrenching fear and excitement that the story within the story creates is unreal. I normally hate books and films that are about books and films but this is the exception to the rule. The other thing that is really striking about this film is the way the cities, interiors and landscapes are captured and juxtaposed. They really add to the overall atmosphere and story telling. 


This is brutal, relentless and quite depressing film - not for the faint hearted but totally brilliant.

tastemaker

Tom Ford creates another cinematic masterpiece. Following his previous offering, A Single Man, his new film Nocturnal Animals opens with incredibly fat ladies dancing with the confidence anyone might need if they are lucky enough to work with a genius such as Ford.

The plot centre's around Susan, an art gallery owner, living in a unhappy and unfulfilled relationship. She is sent a manuscript, dedicated to her from her previous husband, played by Jake Gyllenhaal entitled, 'Nocturnal Animals'. It is a dark and sorrowful story of a man's family who are brutally killed and the lengths that man will go to, to get justice for them.

Ford frames each and every shot is such an artistic and pleasing way to the eye, lingering over moments so, at points, you could be in an art gallery yourself, looking transfixed to a painting. He manages to communicate each moment beautifully whether that is desolation, loneliness, attraction or despair.

The film, as you might expect has a polished yet eerie, very dark, almost, dare I say, Black Orchid quality about it, where more can be read from what the characters don't say, rather than what they do. 

Tastemaker

Hauntingly beautiful, Tom Ford has created a classically clever tale of deceit and revenge. Nocturnal Animals tells the dark tale of a poncy miserable gallery owner whose husband is cheating on her and looks to the past for some form of comfort in the form of a book she receives from her writer-ex-husband, which serves as a story within a story in the film. However, this book offers little comfort as it tells the disturbing tale, that seemingly serves as a dark and chilling tale to echo her own life story. The music is perfect, but the cinematography really makes this film, right from the onset, with some 'interesting' visuals right through the film. There's a stellar cast, Amy Adams is brilliant assuming a very different role to other films she's appeared in, Isla Fisher dazzles as usual. Jake Gyllenhall captivates (and provides perfect eye candy) and there's a great supporting cast including some British faves, Michael Sheen and Zawe Ashton. Some things left me a little confused as I pondered what the symbolism meant long after I left the cinema, but in my eyes that's what makes a good movie. 

tastemaker

  ‘Do you ever feel like your life is turning into something you never intended?’

Blistering savagery told with superficial cruelty. A chilling modern-day parable of how greed and excess can wreck lives. Few films, let alone sophomore films from a writer-director, are this impressive. Gorgeously shot, spectacularly told and superbly well-acted…this is the kind of film that gets under your skin. It seduces the viewer, weaving its way in and then setting up residence; forcing your brain to rethink, reflect and reprocess. It’s deserving of at least second viewing is unquestionable as is Ford’s ability to tell a story that is so distinctive in terms of visuals and narrative.

tastemaker

This is a stunning film, incredibly well made, two spectacular performances from Jake Gyllenhaal & Amy Adams. It is totally fascinating, and at the same time totally alarming. The film is almost two hours long, but without a wasted minute.

The best film I've seen in 2016. Every shot, & every scene is a mini work of Art, destined to become a cult movie.

Whilst 'A Single Man' was undoubtedly a more coherent film, still this much more ambitious project makes for a wonderful cinematic experience - visually provocative and impressive, with hints of Kubrick and David Lynch. The script is the one weak point I'm afraid - at times it teeters on being clunky and pretentious - but the story (with its allegory of what it means to kill another person and what it means to take revenge) is carried off beautifully and powerfully. The stand-out performance is Michael Shannon - as a nihilistic cop - he deserves an Oscar nomination for best supporting actor. The performance is visceral in every sense of the word. A sumptuous sensory experience at the cinema - what's not to like?


Nocturnal Animals

The premise is interesting and the cinematography, superb. Direction,

acting and production are very good, but the writer has some serious

mental issues.

At first, we see a glossy but empty art-house lifestyle of a rich L.A.

couple. But when we are shown the ex-husband's novel on the screen, we

immediately become trapped in a senseless and brutal crime against an

undeserving family. The film oozes perverse titillation and venom.

The main story flips from the past to the present and in and out of the

ex's novel, which becomes ever more unforgiving and bleak. There is no

redemption, little remorse, all hope is cruelly crushed in both real

and novelized lives.

I almost walked out of this abusive and violent assault on the senses

and emotions, but hung on to the end. I wish I had walked out.

Perverse and empty.

The only conclusion, for the author of this mess, is: Seek help.

Ugh.


I understand that different people have different opinions, but giving this film two stars seems mean-spirited. I'm no Time Out reviewer, but I thought this film was fucking great.


I voted with my feet in the time honoured manner and left a few minutes before the end. I reasoned that however brilliant the twist might be, if indeed the wooden script would have a twist at all, it was not worth wasting any more time on this piece of utter tosh. Even Amy Adams excellent acting could not salvage more than one star.


I really enjoyed this film. I thought the photography, the acting, the direction and the screenplay were very strong. The narrative oscillates between stories within stories but without complicating the narrative too much. Visually the film is stunning. The frames are beautifully composed and edited. The use of colour, music and a hint of melodrama makes a comparison to Almodóvar's latest films unavoidable. The film also makes a beautiful visual exploration of the human body, which I think is one of the things that separate the film from the original book from which it was adapted. The opening scene in particular, one of the strongest I've seen, explores the human body, criticises American culture and suggests how cold, heartless and monstrous the contemporary art scene is. I thoroughly enjoyed this film!

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Tastemaker

I'm not sure why this film has such shining reviews. I kept waiting for it to get better...it never did. Disappointing! The story is weak. Don't waste your time!