Nocturnal Animals: A Cautionary Tale

(l-r.) Academy Award nominees Michael Shannon and Jake Gyllenhaal star as Bobby Andes and Tony Hastings in writer/director Tom Ford’s romantic thriller NOCTURNAL ANIMALS, a Focus Features release. Credit: Merrick Morton/Focus Features

Amy Adams and Jake Gyllenhaal star as a divorced couple who go through psychological and emotional changes as their lives are explored in Nocturnal Animals.

Written and directed by Tom Ford, the thriller was based on the novel Tony and Susan by Austin Wright. The cast features Amy Adams, Jake Gyllenhaal, Michael Shannon, Aaron Taylor-Johnson, Isla Fisher, Karl Glusman, Armie Hammer, Laura Linney, Andrea Riseborough, and Michael Sheen.

Susan Morrow (Amy Adams) is married to Hutton Morrow (Armie Hammer) but she’s not happy with her life. As Hutton goes away for another business trip, Susan recieves a manuscript of a novel, Nocturnal Animals, by her ex-husband Edward Sheffield (Jake Gyllenhaal). Having not been in touch for years, Susan starts reading the book and later contacts him while he is visiting the city.

While the book is dedicated to Susan, it’s content is both violent and deadly. As Tony and his family drive through Texas, they are caught by some joyriders. The head of the trio, Ray Marcus (Aaron Taylor-Johnson), forces them off the road and it doesn’t turn out so well as Tony’s wife and daughter get kidnapped while he is left stranded.

Hastings walks until he reaches a place where he can call the police. Lieutenant Bobby Andes (Michael Shannon) picks up the case. Once it’s known that Tony’s worst fear has come true, Andes will stop at nothing to nab the suspects. He’s dying of cancer anyway so he wants that one final hurrah much in the same way that Jeff Bridges’ Texas Ranger did in Hell or High Water, except Bridges’ character was retiring.

As Susan continues to read, she flashes back to some of the moments in their life such as when they first met. At one point, she calls and wakes her daughter up. Edwards’ novel forces Susan to take a good hard look at herself. This book was unlike anything that Edward had written when they were together.

Most of Adams acting in this film is silently reacting to what she has read wheras Gyllenhaal has dual roles as Sheffield and Tony Hastings. For his performance in the role of Lt. Bobby Andes, actor Michael Shannon is drawing critical acclaim.

Nocturnal Animals took home the Grand Jury Prize during the 2016 Venice International Film Festival. Focus Features opened the thriller with a limited release on November 18th before going wide on December 9th.

Danielle Solzman

Danielle Solzman is native of Louisville, KY, and holds a BA in Public Relations from Northern Kentucky University and a MA in Media Communications from Webster University. She roots for her beloved Kentucky Wildcats, St. Louis Cardinals, Indianapolis Colts, and Boston Celtics. Living less than a mile away from Wrigley Field in Chicago, she is an active reader (sports/entertainment/history/biographies/select fiction) and involved with the Chicago improv scene. She also sees many movies and reviews them. She has previously written for Redbird Rants, Wildcat Blue Nation, and Hidden Remote/Flicksided. From April 2016 through May 2017, her film reviews can be found on Creators.

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