Nocturnal Animals Review

Tom Ford’s luscious new tense thriller, never lets up.

4 mins

I can (hand on heart) admit I had never heard of Tom Ford. Much seems to be made of his previous career as a Fashion Designer, and I had not seen his debut picture A Single Man.

There is a lot to like about this picture not least the unrelenting tension and tight dialogue

So forget that Tom Ford for one minute has been creative director for Gucci and Saint Laurent, and just consider the opening scene of the picture. It's of close up, slow mo’s of fat naked women all jiggling and jiving to an unheard music track. Visually it's absolutely splendid and the visual treats continue throughout the picture.

Amy Adams plays Susan Morrow, a haughty owner of a fashionable Art Gallery in Los Angeles, who has lost her life spark. She is continually lamenting her past life decisions with the men in her life. Her life is cool and cold and antiseptic. Susan is questioning her life & job, finding her highbrow existence ultimately empty and ephemeral . Additionally she suspects her husband of cheating, especially when he has to catch a last minute flight to New York for urgent business.  Susan doesn’t trust herself anymore since breaking up with her first husband, Edward Sheffield played by Jake Gyllenhall. A man she regrets damaging and discarding under cruel circumstances.    

Nocturnal Animals review

So she is very surprised to receive a manuscript of Edwards first book for Susan to read & review. Edward has even dedicated the book to her, which fires hopes of a reconciliation.

Ford tells the story of the book “Nocturnal Animals” as Susan reads it during the long nights. The camera cuts between the cold corporate muted colours of Susan’s life now, and the playful back story young love flashbacks, to the rich oversaturated “noir” cop thriller storyline described in the pages of the book.  Ford tells his story with subtle cues to anchor you firmly to the storyline being presented.

The book Nocturnal Animals tells the story of family being viciously attacked during a road trip in the outback of Texas, and the subsequent investigation that follows.  Some of the more violent scenes really are nasty and very tense, but Michael Shannon playing the cop investigator steals the show with his hardened, quiet and matter of fact performance.

Nocturnal Animals review

There is a lot to like about this picture not least the unrelenting tension and tight dialogue, but the characters are never quite explored enough for us to feel compassion and empathy.  Ultimately the picture feels rather two dimensional and unsatisfying despite its great leading cast and supporting cameos from Michael Sheen, Jena Malone and Laura Linney.

Forget the fashion design. Tom Ford has a serious career ahead of him.


Last updated on: 24 Jan 2017 10:36 AM

Amy Adams Tom Ford Jake Gyllenhall