A dark, tense, revenge thriller about regret, betrayal, love and expression through art.
Based on the book Tony and Susan (written by Austin Wright), Nocturnal Animals follows Susan Morrow (Amy Adams) who receives a novel written and sent by her ex-husband Edward Sheffield (Jake Gyllenhaal), titled Nocturnal Animals, the story which conjures memories and feelings about their relationship Susan had forgotten since leaving him over a decade ago.
Tom Ford (writer and director), typically known as a fashion designer, has created an intricate and well crafted, dual non-linear narrative of the real life and the fictional story within the book which is ever intriguing and engaging as the stories develop.
Edward’s violent and relentless novel is a reflective metaphor of how he felt when Susan left him, and how he struggled to cope as they both changed in to very different people. It’s a clever construction and well presented by Ford, which provides added layers to the narrative with many different scenes and moments to pick at and deconstruct to find meaning or relevance.
The haunting and tense nature adds to the unique flair of the film providing a gripping and engaging experience from start to finish as we discover more and more about these characters, their relationship and how it relates to the novel Edward has written.
Amy Adams and Jake Gyllenhaal are both very good in their roles, Amy feels genuinely uncomfortable in life, intrigued and disturbed by the novel as well as remorseful for her own actions. Jake (who also plays Tony, the main character in the novel) provides grit, emotion, regret and desire for vengeance very well also. Aaron Taylor-Johnson too provides a great performance as the main antagonist within the novel with his lies, abusive nature and general disturbing aura.
There’s certainly an ‘indie’ vibe to the film, however this word doesn’t make the film bad or too obscure, which is a common misconception. In this case, it means there’s a lot more layers, depth, significance in each frame, artistic style and darker themes to the film than the common Hollywood film. It’s very symbolic and metaphoric in its telling of the two stories and it doesn’t hand us everything on a plate, it requires some deciphering.