Nocturnal Animals (2016) Review



Nocturnal Animals may be one of my favourite movies of recent times as it’s incredibly tense at times and quietly devastating.

Plot: From writer/director Tom Ford comes a haunting romantic thriller of shocking intimacy and gripping tension that explores the thin lines between love and cruelty, revenge and redemption. Academy Award nominees Amy Adams and Jake Gyllenhaal star as a divorced couple discovering dark truths about each other and themselves in Nocturnal Animals.


If ever there’s a movie that haunts you after watching it it’s Nocturnal Animals; for the first 15 minutes I wasn’t sure it was going to be my type of movie… but then Jake Gyllenhaal entered and transformed it into an incredibly intense affair.

There are essentially three stories to this movie: the main story is about Susan Morrow (Amy Adams) who works at an art gallery; her husband Hutton (Armie Hammer) is wealthy but cold and empty much like her large sterile house. When Susan receives a novel called Nocturnal Animals her world is turned upside down as she realises it is essentially a tale of revenge from her ex-husband Edward (Jake Gyllenhaal). This becomes the second story with Jake also portraying the novel’s protagonist Tony who is too “weak” to protect his wife and daughter from 3 rednecks who taken them away and rape/murder them.

The third story is in flashback as we find out how Susan and Edward got together and how it all fell apart. He was too “sensitive” for her and lives too much in fantasy but she sees herself as a cynical realist. When she cheats on Edward with Hutton and ends up having an abortion with Edward’s baby that is the final straw and Edward is left a broken man.

The most interesting story is Nocturnal Animals with Tony trying to track down the men who killed his family; it’s devastating and shocking but you’re afraid to look away and on the edge of your seat. Personally, this would have worked as a film in its own right and I found the main story with Amy Adams less interesting, despite how important it was.

A lot has been made of the ending and I get that its essentially Edward’s last revenge on Susan (even if it does seem a little childish) but I ultimately found it anti-climactic and frustrating. The fact that I’m still thinking about it can only be a good thing however, and I enjoy that it was open to interpretation.

The performances by the entire cast are spectacular with the biggest surprise coming from Aaron Taylor-Johnson who is quite terrifying as one of the killer rednecks Ray Marcus. I didn’t recognize him at first which shows what a great actor he has become.

You’ve also got Michael Shannon in a restrained role as the cop Bobby Andes who really wants justice for Tony.

By the end of the movie Susan is essentially left with nothing and that’s all she deserves; Edward was a good man who she cast aside so ultimately I found it pretty satisfying.

It’s beautifully shot and atmospheric and I recommend you stick with it after a slow start.

Overall, Nocturnal Animals may be one of my favourite movies of recent times as it’s incredibly tense at times and quietly devastating. Definitely worth checking out.