Director: Tom Ford
Cast: Amy Adams, Jake Gyllenhaal, Michael Shannon
Release Date: February 21, 2017
A Review By: Kevin Lovell
Film Rating: 9.5/10
Disc Rating: 7/10
Academy Award nominees Amy Adams and Jake Gyllenhaal star in this haunting romantic thriller from acclaimed writer/director Tom Ford (A Single Man). Susan (Amy Adams) is living through an unfulfilling marriage when she receives a package containing a novel manuscript from her ex-husband, Edward (Jake Gyllenhaal). The novel is dedicated to her but its content is violent and devastating. Susan cannot help but reminisce over her past love story with the author. Increasingly she interprets the book as a tale of revenge, a tale that forces her to re-evaluate the choices that she has made, and reawakens a love that she feared was lost. Also starring Armie Hammer and Michael Shannon, Nocturnal Animals is a thriller of shocking intimacy and gripping tension.
‘Nocturnal Animals’ joins successful Susan Morrow (Adams) following her latest art exhibition. When after years of silence she suddenly receives a manuscript of a new novel from her ex-husband Edward Sheffield (Gyllenhaal) dedicated to her and with a note included stating the inspiration came from his relationship with her, she is unable to resist and promptly delves into the novel. Within she discovers a dark, twisted Texan revenge tale of a kind man named Tony Hastings (also Gyllenhaal) who is thrown into a world filled with violence and misery in a bloody story that that she can’t help but interpret as some odd form of revenge for her inexcusable actions during their relationship. As Susan’s life begins to be affected by the book she is reading, she (along with the viewer) is divided between two drastically worlds with some unavoidable distinctions; her own life and the world her ex-husband has created within the novel.
Directed by Tom Ford (A Single Man) from a screenplay he also wrote which was based upon the novel ‘Tony and Susan’ by Austin Wright respectively, Ford does a magnificent job at the helm of ‘Nocturnal Animals’ which marks his sophomore filmmaking effort, capturing the tone and tension with perfection and delivering an impressive thriller in nearly every regard. The film also owes a great deal of credit to the cast which is comprised of some immensely talented folks and includes Amy Adams (Arrival), Jake Gyllenhaal (Nightcrawler), Michael Shannon (The Iceman), Aaron Taylor-Johnson (Kick-Ass), Isla Fisher (Now You See Me), Laura Linney (The Truman Show), and Michael Sheen (Underworld) along with more, nearly all delivering noteworthy performances in each of their respective roles, particularly Shannon who received a much deserved Oscar Nomination for his outstanding performance.
‘Nocturnal Animals’ is a dark, brutal and emotional thriller with a drastically different formula than we are usually accustomed to. Cleverly utilizing a story within the story method as our lead Susan goes about her daily life while reading the novel she’s been sent by her ex-husband when able as the film shifts perfectly between the two and in the process manages to offer both a grisly, revenge thriller alongside more of a psychological thriller, with the two complimenting each other beautifully. Frequently employing overwhelming reds, and similar warm, solid colors reflecting off of every face, car and building in order to emphasize the bleak tone, the film shifts between the two building storylines, forming into a truly unique and riveting thriller that you won’t be able to peel your eyes away from. ‘Nocturnal Animals’ isn’t for the folks who want a happy, mildly suspenseful good time, instead providing an unsettling exploration of one woman’s inner demons balanced by a tense old fashioned Texas revenge tale. Beautifully guided by director Tom Ford who delivers quite the fantastic sophomore effort as a filmmaker, and his capable guidance is only further complimented by an outstanding cast that includes noteworthy performances from Amy Adams, Jake Gyllenhaal, Michael Shannon, and Aaron Taylor-Johnson. I would strongly urge anyone who enjoys a dark, somewhat bleak, yet remarkable and gorgeous thriller to make a point of checking out ‘Nocturnal Animals’ when you’re able; it’s a tense, powerful ride that many of you won’t dare to miss out on.
Overall, ‘Nocturnal Animals’ is a powerful, twisted and emotionally riveting thriller that brilliantly intertwines two separate stories and forms together into a remarkable film that is constantly brimming with tension in one storyline, while full of emotional conflict in the other, and rarely missing a beat along its course. Filmmaker Tom Ford does an outstanding job at the helm and delivers an exceptional sophomore effort that is boosted all the more by an incredibly talented cast at their best. ‘Nocturnal Animals’ easily earns one of my highest recommendations, it’s an outstanding film that is well worth your time and should be more than worthy of the cost of a rental for anyone who can appreciate a smart, beautiful and somewhat unsettling thriller that should have no trouble maintaining your constant attention.
The Blu-ray release of ‘Nocturnal Animals’ features a full 1080p High Definition presentation utilizing the film’s original 2.40:1 Cinemascope Aspect Ratio. The video presentation looks outstanding as a whole and provides a sharp, detailed and clean presentation from start to finish with no notable faults to be found within. It holds up impressively even during the notably dark and fast moving sequences, never causing anything occurring on screen to become negatively affected or rendered indiscernible. Overall, this is a fantastic high definition video presentation from Universal that should have no trouble pleasing the masses.
The Blu-ray release features a lossless 5.1 channel DTS-HD Master Audio soundtrack. This lossless multichannel soundtrack sounds great and delivers a crisp, sharp and occasionally quite aggressive audio presentation throughout. It often takes advantage of all five available channels in order to immerse the viewer within the film’s fantastic music, in addition to sending nature elements, screams, car activity and more throughout the various speakers when fitting, and never resulting in any dialogue which may be occurring simultaneously to become distorted or rendered inaudible. Overall, this is a wonderful 5.1 channel DTS-HD MA soundtrack that compliments the tension and emotion within beautifully.
The Blu-ray release of ‘Nocturnal Animals’ includes one notable extra, ‘The Making of Nocturnal Animals’ Featurette (running approximately 11 minutes in length) which includes interviews/comments with the cast and crew, plus some behind the scenes footage, and more.