Directed by: Tom Ford
Starring: Amy Adams, Jake Gyllenhaal, Michael Shannon, Aaron Taylor-Johnson, Isla Fisher, Karl Glusman, Armie Hammer, Laura Linney, Andrea Riseborough, Michael Sheen
Runtime: 115 min
Tom Ford uses three narratives combined into one to tell us an extremely complex story. Susan Morrow (Amy Adams) is an artist who receives a book written by her ex-husband Edward Sheffield (Jake Gyllenhaal). She starts to visualize it and we get to follow that fictional story as well as the real story, both in the present and in the past, when they first met.
Do you like movies that expect you to be fully concentrated throughout it and that make you think hours after it ended? Well, that's Nocturnal Animals. A lot of people disliked this film because of it, so I'm saying it to you straight: if you don't like watching movies that leave you with a bunch of unanswered questions and that expect you to solve them, then forget it, this isn't a movie for you ...
The narratives are so well-constructed, Tom Ford directed this movie brilliantly. The production design is amazing with all the visual cues and the editing is excellent (it increases the confusion purposely). The story within the story is obviously the most captivating and fascinatingly dark. So dark. It's unbelievably tense, emotional and Tom Ford does a great job connecting them all (even if he's sloppy and pretentious at some points).
The casting is one of the best of 2016. Amy Adams is very good (better in Arrival), but the biggest praise goes to Jake Gyllenhaal (also plays Tony Hastings), who continues to be ignored even when he's one of the greatest actors of his generation and he keeps proving that over and over again ... Wake up, Hollywood! Michael Shannon (Bobby Andes) is absolutely perfect and an Oscar nomination is more than deserved, as well as Aaron Taylor-Johnson (Ray Marcus), who looks so, but so much dark and creepy that I started to feel disgusted just by looking at him, which is a great compliment since that's what he's supposed to make me feel.
It's really a great movie, it's very different and unconventional (a lot of people are going to hate it as they hated Swiss Army Man, just because they don't follow the common path) and the opening scene alone ... Well, it might be the biggest shock in the entire film for some people. There's an open ending, so a lot of internet theories were already created, but I suggest you think by yourself and try to make sense of all of it. There isn't a solution for this film ending, it depends on the interpretation of each viewer, so think. Just think.
The only issues I find with this film are, as I said above, the excessive visual cues that Tom Ford sometimes gets a little too pretentious and sloppy using them and the fact that the book's story is so captivating that takes away some interest in the others. Also, even if mostly well done, he doesn't always get a cohesive connection between the narratives, especially when he tries to compare them all together.
However, Nocturnal Animals is a great unconventional film with amazing narratives that connect with each other (mostly) well. The cast is ridiculously good with major praise to Gyllenhaal and Sheen, and Tom Ford's directing is wonderful, even if sloppy at points. This is a dark and tense film that leaves us thinking of all the unanswered questions and the captivating story that I can't wait to rewatch.