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Film Review: ‘Nocturnal Animals’ Takes Two Stories to New Levels

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Average: 5 (1 vote)

CHICAGO – Reality and fantasy have separate rules, and in fantasy there are no rules. This is the philosophy of “Nocturnal Animals,” a wild character study that exists on the reality/fantasy planes. And it has the bonus of the Amy Adams/Isla Fisher mix-up and Jake Gyllenhaal at his Gyllenhaal-iest.

HollywoodChicago.com Oscarman rating: 4.0/5.0
Rating: 4.0/5.0

There are two stories in ‘Nocturnal Animals’ – written and directed by Tom Ford (“A Single Man”) – each having ultimately to do with the Amy Adams (not Isla Fisher) character. The Adams persona is going through a crisis of money and marriage, and reconciles this by obsessing over a new novel by her ex-husband. The novel is actualized as a onscreen story while she reads it, and the great Michael Shannon is at the centerpiece of it. The novel part satirizes the extremities of fiction and prose, and the characters inhabiting the book contrast nicely with the so-called real world of Amy Adams (both the present and in flashback). This is a terse and authentic character overview, culminating in a simple emotion within a perfect conclusion.

Susan (Amy Adams) is living a life in transition and crisis. Her husband Hutton (Armie Hammer) is bleeding money from a bad deal, her art gallery (horrid and hilarious through Tom Ford’s designer eye) is nearly bankrupt and her marriage is splintering. Through this all she receives a package from her ex-husband Edward (Jake Gyllenhaal), who had published his first novel. She begins to read it.

The novel’s story comes to life through her consciousness. It involves Tony (Gyllenhaal again), and his wife and daughter (Isla Fisher! and Ellie Bamber). The women are kidnapped on a remote Texas road while Tony ineffectually looks on, and are raped and murdered. The only link for justice is a strange lawman named Bobby (Michael Shannon). While Susan reads on, the story serves as a reminder of her own life, told in flashbacks and in the present day.


”Nocturnal Animals” opens in Chicago, New York City and Los Angeles on November 18th, and wider on December 9th. See local listings for theaters and show times. Featuring Amy Adams, Jake Gyllenhaal, Michael Shannon, Aaron Taylor-Johnson, Isla Fisher, Ellie Bamber, Armie Hammer and Laura Linney. Written and directed by Tom Ford. Rated “R”

StarContinue reading for Patrick McDonald’s full review of “Nocturnal Animals”

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Susan (Amy Adams) Contemplates Her Fate in ‘Nocturnal Animals’
Photo credit: Focus Features

StarContinue reading for Patrick McDonald’s full review of “Nocturnal Animals”

Mr. Leland's picture

Blew Me Away

Easily one of the best films of the year. While Michael Shannon and Aaron Taylor-Johnson received some recognition, the entire cast and crew are working on all cylinders from the opening credits to the final pathetic shot of Amy Adams, this one had me hook, line and sinker.

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