Nocturnal Animals (2016)
Directed by Tom Ford
Based on the novel Tony and Susan by Austin Wright
Screenplay by Tom Ford
Starring: Amy Adams, Jake Gyllenhaal, Michael Shannon, Armie Hammer, Laura Linney, Isla Fisher
Susan Morrow (Adams) is faced with a terrifying conclusion when she receives a copy of her ex-husband’s (Gyllenhaal) new novel, a violent thriller.
This movie might best be described as modern film-noir. The story is based on the 1993 novel Tony and Susan written by Austin Wright. Tom Ford (A Single Man) took that novel and adapted it for the screen. Ford also took on the role of director. The cast includes Amy Adams (Arrival), Michael Shannon (Midnight Special), and Jake Gyllenhaal (Nightcrawler). Armie Hammer (J. Edgar), Laura Linney (Sully), and Isla Fisher (The Great Gatsby) are also featured.
This story weaves in and out of a number of realities. The writing does a nice job setting the dark tone of the story early on. This helps to build an ever-growing sense of foreboding. The characters in the film are nicely created to fit into the tone of the film as well. No one seems out of place, but that doesn’t mean that they’re predictable. In fact, this movie is anything but. The twists and turns of the story work to build the suspense all the way to a solid conclusion. Throughout the movie the dialogue is also nicely written. The weakness in the story comes with the lack of balance that occurs late in the film. One of the two stories being told seems to lose steam a bit early. This isn’t a major issue since the overall experience is so solid.
This film features a lot of great actors. Amy Adams, Jake Gyllenhaal, and Michael Shannon lead the way. Their performances anchor the story, allowing the other actors to shine as well. Adams is especially good in this one. Her performance is emotional and intense, and she seems to understand the dual worlds of the story. Jake Gyllenhaal is equally good in a role that required a lot of vulnerability and emotion.
He also connects nicely with Michael Shannon. Shannon’s own performance is strong and intense, fitting for his character in the film. He earned an Oscar nomination for Best Supporting Actor for his part in this movie. The rest of the cast does great work as well. Hammer, Linney, and Fisher are just a few of the actors who brought their talents to this one, making it a solid movie.
This one lives in the shadows, and the production does a great job with that tone. Cinematographer Seamus McGarvey (Godzilla) did a great job finding the visual tension the story deserves. The film also uses great locations and sets to complete the worlds of the film. The movie also has a unique and powerful score, composed by Abel Korzeniowski (W.E.).
This is an intense film that pushes the intensity to the limit. The story is great, and the actors did nice work bringing it to life. If you’re a fan of suspense or emotional drama this might be one for you. I would also suggest this one to fans of film noir. This is gritty and sometimes graphic film that might be a bit much for some people. I give this one 4.3 out of 5 stars.