Nocturnal Animals: "When Someone Loves You, You Have To Be Careful With It"

Director: Tom Ford
Writer:     Tom Ford
Starring: Amy Adams
                Jake Gyllenhaal
                Michael Shannon
                Aaron Taylor-Johnson
                Isla Fisher
                Ellie Bamber
                Armie Hammer
                Laura Linney
                Andrea Riseborough
                Michael Sheen
Rating:    ***

Home Release: March 13, 2017 

Nocturnal Animals is only the second film that Tom Ford has directed, the first being 2009's critically acclaimed A Single Man. Nocturnal Animals is quite a departure from A Single Man, and while it is good; after my viewing I felt, well not very much at all and haven't quite understood the hype around it. An interesting concept, which is based on the book Tony and Susan, by Austin Wright; Nocturnal Animals felt empty and disconnected.

Amy Adams is Susan Morrow, ex-wife of novelist Edward Sheffield (Gyllenhaal). After years apart, he sends her a copy of his new book, named after his nickname for her... Nocturnal Animals. When she is finished reading it, she can't help but feel it is a thinly veiled threat against her, and this takes a psychological hold on her. It soon becomes apparent that the book is a way for him to get revenge on her, for when they split she did it in a brutal and hurtful way.

Amy Adams
Adams is good in her role, but it never quite stretches past good. You can see the fear, anguish, worry and regret in her throughout the film, but it never quite reached the point of taking an emotional grasp on me. I personally found the scenes outside of the story she was reading dull and ineffective. This does not mean that Adams was bad in her portrayal, just that the character and story she that goes through were the weakest parts of the film.

Now, when Susan reads the book, it is shown as a film in her mind. Gyllenhaal portrays the dad, Isla Fisher is the Mum and Ellie Bamber is the daughter. What is clever, and obviously deliberate is that Adams and Fisher look strikingly similar, and have often spoken about their similarities in interviews. This helps the audience to connect the idea that this book is a secret threat against Susan.

The story is a revenge story, when the family are driven ff the road by a gang, lead by Aaron -Taylor-Johnson's disturbingly brilliant Ray Marcus, they try their hardest to escape and save themselves. However, the mother and daughter are kidnapped, and what ensues is an intense search for them, followed by rage inspired revenge against the gang.

Aaron Taylor-Johnson
The story within the film is actually the more gripping part of the film, and I could have easily just watched that as a film, without the Amy Adams parts. Gyllenhaal is pained and defeaten in his performance, but uses that to strengthen himself and do all he can to get justice for his family. The standout though is Aaron Taylor-Johnson. Repugnant, twisted and evil, Taylor-Johnson completely transforms himself into a brilliantly thought out villain. The scenes between himself and Gyllenhaal are brutal, and superb to watch as an audience member.

Nocturnal Animals is in no way a terrible film, it actually has plenty of moments that shine. I just found that the cutting back to Amy Adams instantly took me out of the raw emotion happening within the book, and stopped me from fully immersing myself in the story. Tom Ford is a very talented director, and shows great talents at being able to write a script, I just found his second film to be a bit disappointing as a follow-up to the superb A Single Man.

Nocturnal Animals - Trailer