My friend Carolann has a Tom Ford bag. She looks at it with awe. Mesmerised by everything about it. Its sleek and well made. It has the look of a classic and you know its exceptional quality. That bag is a talking point the moment someone sees it. If that bag were a film it would be Nocturnal Animals.
Tom Ford first introduced us to his prowess as a director in 2009 with the critically acclaimed A Single Man. The movie was nominated for an Oscar, three Golden Globes and two BAFTAs. He set the bar high as a first time director. His second turn behind the camera with Nocturnal Animals most certainly equals if not surpasses his first.
So What Is It About?
Amy Adams is Susan Morrow, a stylish, wealthy art gallery owner. Her life with husband Hutton (Armie Hammer) is more facade than fantastic. Out of the blue her ex-husband Edward Sheffield (Jake Gyllenhaal) sends her a copy of a book he has written. The book titled Nocturnal Animals which he has dedicated to her.
Opening the book kick starts a series of story threads which are brilliantly and seemlessly woven into the movie. The first depicting her life with Hutton. The second her breakup with Edward. Third which is the centerpiece, the violent and tragic fictional story of Tony (Jake Gyllenhaal), Laura (Isla Fisher) and India Hastings.
On a deserted highway the Hastings family are driving through the night when they are run off the road by three men. Laura and India are taken captive and Tony is left stranded miles from anywhere. What follows is a violent attack on his wife and daughter who are found dead.
While reading the scene we see Susan visibly shocked by what she is reading. So much so it prompts her to call her own daughter. As she continues the book we learn more about what happens to the Hasting family and how a desperate Tony, with the help of Officer Bobby Andes (Michael Shannon) tracks down the groups ring leader Ray Marcus (Aaron Taylor-Johnson).
The further she reads, the more the fictional story unfolds and the more unsettled Susan becomes. She tries to get in touch with Edward to discuss his work. Save for an email agreeing to dinner he remains silent. Is he toying with her? Is the book sending a message of revenge? Well I won’t tell you because that would ruin it for you.
Amy Adams as usual turns in a spectacular performance as the slow unraveling Susan. Jake Gyllenhaal playing the dual role of Edward and Tony is haunting, desperate and vulnerable all at once.
The supporting cast is equally as impressive. Michael Shannon as the sheriff is edgy and unpredictable. Isla Fisher as a young Laura inhabits her character well.
I’m giving Nocturnal Animals a firm 4.5 out of 5. It ticks all the boxes. Stellar cast. Beautifully shot. Intriguing and original story line and certainly one to watch and then re-watch again. Check out the trailer below for a sneak preview of what to expect.