Tom Ford hits it out of the park again in Nocturnal Animals, a stunning film noir. Amy Adams stars as Susan Morrow, a successful but deeply unhappy Los Angeles gallery owner. One day, Susan receives a manuscript, dedicated to her, from Edward (Jake Gyllenhaal), the starter husband she dumped nearly two decades earlier, with encouragement from her harridan of a mother (Laura Linney, so good you want to hate her).
The nightmarish story, played out on screen, has Tony (Gyllenhaal again), his wife Laura (Isla Fisher) and their teen daughter India (Ellie Bamber) being forced off the road by a group of hoods. Tony then has to stand by helplessly while the boys have their way – and more – with his wife and daughter. Later, Tony teams up with Texas cop Bobby Andes (played with animal vibrancy by Michael Shannon) to bring the thugs to justice. But is he man enough? That’s the vengeful heart of the matter, as Susan rightly interprets Edward’s book as retribution for the sins she committed against him.
Ford weaves thse multiple stories into one darkly funny, visually dazzling piece. The actors couldn’t be better. Gyllenhaal, in two roles, dives deep into the wells of perceived masculine weakness. And Adams, taking Susan from dewy college girl to hardened ice queen, is spectacular. Nocturnal Animals may throw you with its shifts in tone, and its merging of past and present, but don’t overthink what Ford has so cunningly crafted. Surrender to it.
– Peter Travers, Rolling Stone