Nocturnal Animals – review

Nocturnal Animals is a thriller/drama directed by Tom Ford, following an art curator in a troubled relationship, who comes back into contact with her ex-husband after he sends her a seemingly cryptic novel, the film stars Amy Adams, Jake Gylenhaal, Michael Shannon, Aaron Taylor-Johnson, Isla Fisher, Armie Hammer.

This isn’t quite your typical thriller and the premise of Nocturnal Animals is an interesting one, sort of a tale of vengeance but not quite, the plot makes more sense as it goes on but initially may seem quite confusing but it follows art curator Susan Morrow, who often reminisces of the past as she seems to have doubts over her husband Huttons’ faithfulness. Susan (Amy Adams) makes for an interesting character, somewhat conflicted and thrown into a bit of a loop after her ex husband Tony sends her a novel seemingly out of the blue, more or less kicking off the main part of the story, he’s also brilliantly portrayed by Jake Gylenhaal, almost entirely in the novel that he sends Susan, which makes for an interesting turn of events. Also in the novel is Aaron Taylor-Johnson who’s pretty fantastic and does a great job at portraying a bit of a scumbag lowlife, playing opposite to the morally ambiguous Michael Shannon.

We see events taking place part in the novel and in real life, which is an interesting narrative choice but with a fair amount of time devoted to visualising the novel – as we see in Susans’ head, going back to real life can seem a bit dull in comparison, maybe a bit of a subtle commentary on novels and fiction in general in relation to the real world that we inhabit – or this is me reading into things a bit.

Generally speaking Gylenhaal represents the high calibre that the film takes on, a well shot and clearly well produced film that doesn’t quite expand enough on its story in any meaningful way unfortunately and ironically, I found the fictional story in the novel a lot more compelling and engaging than the actual story of the film, with a bit of an imbalance in the time spent in each area to the films detriment. That being said, there is an interesting subtext present in the film, with the novel from Tony possibly being some sort of message to Susan, though whether you care about that or not will be entirely based on how your react to the films premise as a whole and I particularly wasn’t that captivated, it’s an interesting high risk approach to a film narrative that can work wonderfully i.e. Big FishThe Hobbit but it doesn’t quite work that well here.

Nocturnal Animals is a curious film, with an interesting premise and a strong cast that’s mostly wasted I feel, though Amy Adams, Aaron Taylor-Johnson and Jake Gylenhaal bring some strong performances and there are some good elements to the whole but the result is a fairly weak and disjointed product that didn’t quite resonate with me due to a rather bare bones overall narrative.


. Unbalanced narrative, doesn’t quite go anywhere interesting in the real world

. Feels a bit uneventful

. Has some strong performances


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