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I loved Nocturnal Animals. Like, really, really loved it. Since this is a review, I’ll get into some of the specifics as to why, but I want to state it in the simplest terms immediately. Tom Ford knows how to make a gorgeous movie, and I want him to direct my life. It would be full of beautiful colors and I would be perfectly styled. Watch the trailer below:
There are actually three different stories intertwined in one movie, and somehow director Tom Ford (whois obviously best known as a fashion designer) is able to piece them together so effortlessly that there is never any confusion about which story you’re watching. Amy Adams plays Susan Morrow, an art gallery owner who has gotten incredibly cynical about the art world and is equally unhappy at home, where she’s growing further and further apart from her husband Hutton (Armie Hammer).
One day she receives a manuscript of her ex-husband Edward’s (Jake Gyllenhaal) upcoming novel Nocturnal Animals. He’s dedicated it to Susan and wants to her to contact him. As Susan reads the book we watch the story play out. Jake Gyllenhaal also plays Tony, the main character in Edward’s novel. In an incredibly tense “watch with my hands covering my face” scene, Tony and his wife and daughter are forced off an abandoned Texas road by a group of men, including madman Ray (Aaron Taylor-Johnson). The family is dragged away from each other, Tony’s wife and daughter are murdered, and Tony spends the next few years with detective Bobby Andes (Michael Shannon) trying to bring Ray and his accomplices to justice.
While dealing with her current life and becoming engrossed in Edward’s novel, Susan also has flashbacks about how she and Edward fell in love, and how their relationship deteriorated. I’m not one to give away all the intricacies of the plot because I think it takes away from the viewing experience if you’re expecting everything that’s coming. Instead I’ll simply say that the themes of regret and revenge are infused into all three stories, and then urge you to go see the movie for yourself. Jake Gyllenhall is equally wonderful in both of his rolls, which is unsurprising and great to watch. Michael Shannon is as fantastic as he always is, and Aaron Taylor- Johnson is absolutely terrifying. He more than deserves the Golden Globe nomination that he received yesterday. Amy Adams received a nomination for her work in Arrival (which is also a great movie), but she’s very good in this too. Susan is not always a likable character and can be incredibly shallow, but she’s still complex.
The cinematography is stunning. Tom Ford is clearly well versed in style, and he uses color so beautifully. Amy Adams’ red hair is more striking in Nocturnal Animals than I’ve ever seen it look. There are a lot of “staring thoughtfully into space” shots of her, but they each look very different. I’m also a big sucker for a good score, and this one spoke to me immediately. All in all, it’s just a truly breathtaking film experience, and a must-see for any cinephile. It does get very heavy and dark however, so if you’re looking for a feel good watch, this isn’t it. Go back when you’re ready. With A Single Man in 2009 and now Nocturnal Animals, Tom Ford is two for two in his directorial career. I can’t wait to see what he does next. If you want to take a break from the movies for a bit Tom, I could always use a bit of a makeover.