Nocturnal Animals. 2016. USA. Directed by Tom Ford. 117 min.
“Amy Adams, Jake Gyllenhaal and Armie Hammer headline the second feature from director Tom Ford (A Single Man), about a woman who is forced to confront the demons of her past as she is drawn into the world of a thriller novel written by her ex-husband. Tom Ford has turned to Austin Wright's novel Tony and Susan as the source for his second feature, a brilliantly assembled, unsettling work that signals a major step forward for the fashion designer/film director after his well-received debut…. If skeptics wondered about Ford's commitment to cinema, Nocturnal Animals will lay all such doubts to rest. The film is stylish and gorgeous to look at — as sleek as a panther — but it's far more than an exercise in aesthetics as it turns its gaze on the complex inner life of a middle-aged woman whose world is about to be turned upside down. Susan (Amy Adams) is a successful Los Angeles art-gallery owner who wants for very little, yet she finds her paradise troubled by the frequent absences of her second husband (Armie Hammer), a handsome young doctor, due to his incessant travelling. Susan is rattled further when a manuscript arrives on her desk, written by her long-estranged first husband, Tony (Jake Gyllenhaal). Alone, with her current husband away in New York, Susan opens the manuscript and is propelled into the fictional life of a teacher (also Gyllenhaal) whose drive to his summer house with his family is about to turn into a nightmare. As Susan gets deeper into the book, she is forced to examine her own past. Oscillating effortlessly between Susan's reality and the story within a story, Ford slowly and meticulously turns the screws, delving into suspense while keeping a firm hand on the disturbing drama. Nocturnal Animals is both an effective thriller and a psychological study of a woman in crisis. Ably supported by his superb cast, Ford never puts a foot wrong as he deftly navigates these two sides; his crisp direction is totally suited to the material. The result is a sheer delight from beginning to end” (Toronto Film International Festival). Courtesy of Focus Features.