Out Now On-Demand
When you love someone you can't just throw it away.
Jake Gyllenhaal and Amy Adams star in this romantic thriller from writer-director Tom Ford, based on the novel Tony and Susan by Austin Wright.
"Susan (Adams) is a successful L.A. art gallery owner who wants for very little, yet she finds her paradise troubled by the frequent absences of her second husband (Armie Hammer), a handsome young doctor, due to his incessant travelling. Susan is rattled further when a manuscript arrives on her desk, written by her long-estranged first husband, Tony (Gyllenhaal).
"Alone, with her current husband away in New York, Susan opens the manuscript and is propelled into the fictional life of a teacher (also Gyllenhaal) whose drive to his summer house with his family is about to turn into a nightmare. As Susan gets deeper into the book, she is forced to examine her own past. Oscillating effortlessly between Susan's reality and the story within a story, Ford slowly and meticulously turns the screws, delving into suspense while keeping a firm hand on the disturbing drama." (Toronto International Film Festival)
Best Supporting Actor (Taylor-Johnson), Golden Globes 2017; Silver Lion (Grand Jury Prize) winner at Venice Film Festival 2016
- Tom Ford('A Single Man')
- Tom Ford (based on the novel 'Tony and Susan' by Austin Wright)
Rating: R16 Violence, sexual violence, offensive language & nudity
Fashion designer-turned-filmmaker Tom Ford knows how to grab our attention, I’ll give him that. His sophomore directorial effort, Nocturnal Animals, opens with what is probably the most dazzling curtain-raiser of the year: a slow-mo procession of flesh and glitter that plays like a provocative rebuke of the way the opening credits of the James Bond franchise have traditionally converted women’s bodies into stylised, seductive props. Unfortunately the bulk of the film, an adaptation of Austin Wright’s 1993 novel Tony and Susan, fails to live up to the promise of this temporary entrancement.
Make no mistake, Ford continues to exhibit the touch of a consummate stylist. Nocturnal Animals drips with the same kind of lush, florid, Almodovarian atmosphere of his debut A Single Man. And there are a few standout moments along the way. The initial story-within-a-story, where a family is terrorised on a stretch of desert road by a trio of thuggish bros, is an impressively sustained sequence of nerve-rattling terror. As always, Michael Shannon is reason enough to stick with mediocre films, and his mustachioed Texas cop here is a delightfully flinty scene-stealer who animates proceedings whenever the going gets too turgid.
But ultimately this stew of noir campiness -- part meta brain-teaser, part pulp revenge thriller -- is uneven and stodgy, hewing closer to the embarrassing pastiche of Atom Egoyan’s Where the Truth Lies than the exquisite smoke-and-mirrors of Brian De Palma’s Femme Fatale. It’s a bad sign when not even the generally reliable Amy Adams convinces, perhaps highlighting the trickiness of crafting worthwhile cinema out of a frosty, wealthy art gallerist gasping through a manuscript.
The Guardian (UK)
Total Film (UK)
Stuff.co.nz (Sarah Watt)
NZ Herald (Alex Casey)
It feels odd to criticize a film pitched as a psychological thriller for being "cold" or "unpleasant" - these would seem to be prerequisites for the genre. But Nocturnal Animals is cold, unpleasant, and frustratingly close to being something better. Even with a cast this strong, I sensed some basic artificiality at the root of the enterprise, which made it hard to credit or care about. The strategy of a narrative-within-a-narrative-plus-flashbacks proves more interesting in theory than as drama. It's two story-streams offer one another much subtext through juxtaposition and contrast, but their divergent tones and content never gel satisfactorily: the facile LA-art scene "reality" feels forced while the Texas murder "fiction", though it sustains awful tension admirably in its early stages, relies more on genre auto-pilot the longer it goes on. This being the world according to Tom Ford, the film is visually impeccable, and there is obvious ambition, intelligence, and sophistication at work. Maybe that's the problem: it's "designer psychodrama", overthought and under-felt, all concept and no utility.
For people who enjoys a dark thriller with great acting and story Nocturnal Animals is highly recommended.
Nocturnal Animal is directed by Tom Ford, it stars Amy Adams, Jake Gyllenhaal, Aaron-Taylor Johnson and Michael Shannon.
Amy Adams plays a wealthy and a sophisticated art gallery owner. She receives a novel from her ex-husband, which she interprets as a devastating story about a family, however as she reads on, she recalls the memories with her ex-husband and confronts a dark past that’s loomed over both their lives.
This movie is incredibly stylish, Tom Ford, the director which is also a fashion designer, knows how to dress his cast. From the glamorous parties to the dusty setting of the south. Everyone looked great. However the most impressive aspect of this film is overall structure.
The format of the movie is a story within a story. There’s the movie story with Amy Adams and there’s the novel story that she reads. The way the stories switch is seamless and it doesn’t distract you from the storytelling. You understand what’s happening in both stories and both are gripping in their own ways.
The main great thing about this movie is it’s cast, all of the four main characters are acted incredibly well. Aaron-Taylor Johnson in particular who’s completely unrecognizable. He’s playing Ray Marcus who’s incredibly villainous and you hate him through out the film but you appreciate how good the character is acted.
Overall this movie won’t be for everyone, it’s nihilistic and dark and things do not go well with it’s characters. However the incredible storytelling and the great acting carries this movie substantially. Jake Gyllenhaal, Michael Shannon, Aaron-Taylor Johnson were all incredible and even Amy Adam’s subdued performance is also great. For people who enjoys a dark thriller with great acting and story Nocturnal Animals is highly recommended.
The pacing and cinematography were very moody and Eyes Wide Shut-esque. I though the film blended the story within the story well with both the current time tale and flash backs & that was an interesting twist. It was an intriguing film and had us discussing it afterwards, but maybe a little too intellectual and simply left me feeling cold.
Thinking for days...
What a film! I saw this last night and have a feeling I'm going to be thinking about it for days to come!
•••• SPOILER FREE ••••
From the opening credits, you will be thrown into something quite unexpected. Trance-like yet utterly riveting. The genius of this film is the way Ford has moulded the 3 storylines so seamlessly. They complement each other perfectly. It's two completely different genres, but the pace of each one somehow offsets the other so well.
As you would expect the performances are spot on. Gyllenhaal and Adams are perfect for these roles. Shannon is exceptional and a true standout. He's so comfortable in this role, it just seems effortless. Aaron Taylor-Johnson, from Kick-ass & The Avengers, is a revelation. This is career defining for him. A harrowing performance!
Nocturnal Animals has it all. Style and suspense are in abundance. It's a mind-bender that should keep you thinking for a good while after..
Revenge is a dish best served cold.
Tom Ford has done a masterful job of layering on this flick. There is a lot more to the story than initially meets the eye and for some viewers the plot may be confusing but really this is a simple tale of regret and revenge told from multiple angles. The casting was less than perfect and the slowness of the pace was wearing in some parts but kudos to Tom Ford on only his second feature film. The end definitely justified the means.
An exploration of how deep the feelings run in a messy breakup. This is far more than it seems and deserves multiple viewings. Aaron Taylor Johnson is memorable as is Michael Shannon in the undercard. Overall, a very engaging watch but also through gritted teeth.
A multi-layered psychological thriller about sexual transgression
It is hard to adequately describe the opening scenes of the psychological thriller Nocturnal Animals (2016) but you will not forget them quickly. Picture, if you will, images of completely naked and generously sized women writhing rhythmically to a heavy beat with various body parts moving simultaneously in different directions. They slowly progress in size, with lighting and makeup that makes them resemble what could be described as artistically grotesque burlesque, all with the opening credits still rolling in the background.
If you are still watching, you are being prepared for a film that explores a twilight world of sexual transgression. It may help to know beforehand that there are three criss-crossing plotlines and you can easily lose your sense of what is happening. Gallery director Susan (Amy Adams) is an insomniac with a crumbling marriage and a disinterested career. Spoilt by wealth, she can indulge her sense of emptiness and her regrets over having cruelly dumped her first husband whose modest career as a writer was never going to meet her aspirations. Having once labelled him a loser, out of the blue he sends her a manuscript for a book she cannot stop reading.
The dramatization of the book is a gripping stand-alone thriller. Formulaic but brilliantly acted and filmed, it is about a family driving on a deserted road at night who encounter a carload of crazed thugs. The driver is helpless as his wife and daughter endure horrific crimes, and the story becomes the quest for revenge or justice depending on your moral viewpoint. As Susan reads the book it triggers flashbacks about her previous marriage for which a flame still burns, and she begins to sense that the story is a vengeful metaphor for her own emotional and moral weakness. While these twin narrative layers twist and turn, Susan also struggles with her shallow life in the pretentious present tense of the Los Angeles art world.
The narrative framework of this film can feel like a tangled mess but it is not. It shifts from one layer to another without warning to create a fine balance between logic and confusion while creating a powerful montage of haunting scenes. The converging motifs of sleeplessness and night trawlers equate Susan’s moral culpability with those of murderous road stalkers and hint darkly that while some wrongs are beyond the law they are never beyond primal vengeance. The story of Nocturnal Animals is told through Susan’s eyes and with a top-quality support ensemble. With striking cinematography, many scenes could be framed as artworks in Susan’s gallery. This is a challenging and engaging film that says be careful what you wish for.
Two steps Ford, one step back
I am a big fan of "A Single Man", Ford's first feature. Not surprising given his background, this is yet another effortlessly stylish film. However, it didn't quite have the same emotional pull for me.
The events happening in 'real life' felt a little too cold and calculated. Rich people being bored with their beautiful lives, characters talking their emotions at each other. And the juxtaposition with what was happening in the novel was not-so-subtle. There were some nice moments of humour at the expense of the art world, though.
But...the revenge thriller element was fantastic! From the incredible sequence on the road where we first meet the protagonists and Ford just keeps ramping the tension from there.
The performances are stellar. Gyllenhaal and Adams continue to prove they are two of the best of their generation. Michael Shannon gives us yet another memorable character. While Aaron Taylor-Johnson more than holds his own and is also proving himself to be versatile.
So yes, it is flawed. But I would much rather see something ambitious like this that will hold my interest. Plus, it is one of the most beautifully shot films you will see this year. Big thanks to Flicks for the preview tickets!! :)
Beautifully shot and crafted film which left me slightly dissatisfied. On reflection though it all made much more sense and I'm still thinking about it days later. A disturbing and thought provoking tale of heartbreak and revenge. Don't take your mum.
Absorbing & beautifully shot
My partner & I both really enjoyed this movie. Beautifully shot, some shocking scenes, some thought provoking moments and a great ending. Definitely worth watching!