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Review: ‘Nocturnal Animals’ A Compelling Stylish Gritty Thriller

Genre: Drama | Thriller 
Directed by: Tom Ford
Starring: Jake Gyllenhaal, Amy Adams, Michael Shannon
Written by: Tom Ford (screenplay), Austin Wright (novel)

Synopsis: An ex-wife is tormented by her for former husband’s chilling novel.

Tom Ford is a name you hear about a lot on the red carpet during awards ceremonies. Usually you hear his name uttered by celebrities who are wearing his stylish suites and dresses. Next time you’ll  be hearing about Tom Ford should be when you’re discussing one of the best directors and movies of the year. Ford does tremendous writing the screenplay and directing the sleek and suspenseful Nocturnal Animals. There is so much to like and little to dislike, so let me get to it:


There is a lot to like about this movie. Let me start with the look. I loved how Ford brings the fashion designer in him to the film. What I mean by that is that the film is so stylistically particular. The movie has as oddly beautiful split of styles as you can have. One part of the movie is elegant, stylish, sleek, luxurious, basically it’s posh. The other part of the movie is dark, gritty, bleak, sad, violent and disturbing. To mix in so many styles and tones is quite the accomplishment in itself, but to make it work seamlessly is even more impressive. The style fits perfectly with the narrative and even enhances the story. The music shouldn’t be overlooked either. It’s moody and fits in with the tone of the film’s scenes.

Stylish and elegant look of the film

There are two different plots going on in the movie that are subliminally tied to another. One is the posh and elitist culture that Amy Adam’s character is involved in. The other is this rugged isolated land in Texas that finds Jake Gyllenhaal’s character trapped in. Yet, both stories parallel each other and have a lot of significant links between them. It’s very intriguing and following the plot is crucial to understanding the context of what is going on.

Gyllenhaal has made it a habit of putting out fantastic performances in recent years. He plays two characters in this movie. A fictional one he centers his novel on and a real one. He’s fantastic as the distraught father and husband, Tony Hastings. His other character, Edward, isn’t showcased as much, but there is a lot of heartache that he deals with. Amy Adams character Susan Morrow is this elitist woman who has all the material possessions and lifestyle anyone could dream of, but is sulking away with inner turmoil and longing for affection and love. As good as Gyllenhaal and Adam’s are, Michael Shannon is the MVP of this movie. He plays a Texas country sheriff hell-bent on justice at any cost. He’s exactly the kind of Texas Ranger that Jeff Bridges should have played in Hell or High Water. Shannon is outstanding as he bends the rules of the law in a forcefully mild manner. Aaron Taylor-Johnson should not be overlooked either. He was virtually unrecognizable playing a small town hoodlum.

Michael Shannon plays a fascinating town sheriff


Not much to pick on from the bad side of things. I would have wanted more background from the Susan character. I felt Amy Adams could have been used more than she was she peeks in and out of the movie, but never enough to delve into her character further. The same can be said for when Gyllenhaal plays Edward. There is more to be explored with both of these characters, especially since they play a significant part in the outcome of it all.

Gyllenhaal plays two intriguing characters,but not enough of Edward


Hard to go wrong with this movie. It has all the elements you’d want to be entertained and intrigued. It’s mysterious, suspenseful, thrilling, chilling, engaging and thought provoking. I guarantee you that you will leave the theater thinking about what happened and tracing back in your mind all the events that lead up to the conclusion. I really enjoyed the mixture of the genres that Ford was able to achieve. Part of this movie feels a lot like Hell or High Water, the other part feels like The Girl on the Train. A Tom Ford wardrobe may be too pricy, but a movie ticket to see Nocturnal Animals shouldn’t be, it’s one of the best movies of the year, so don’t sleep on it.

Rating: R

Runtime: 116 minutes

Release Date: Out now 

Follow me on Twitter @JimRko

  • Acting - 10/10
  • Cinematography - 9.5/10
  • Plot/Screenplay - 10/10
  • Setting/Theme - 10/10
  • Buyability - 10/10
  • Recyclability - 7/10
  • Fun/Entertainment - 9/10
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