Nocturnal Animals is a unique thrill ride. Tom Ford captured great cinematography and even better acting. However, the film will also put you in a weird mood the rest of the day.
Jake Gyllenhaal is one of the best actors of this generation. Amy Adams is always divine, and plays mysterious in a way that seems different from her norm. Michael Shannon is also fantastic, although (surprise) he plays an angry, no-bullshit kind of guy. The real standout is Aaron Taylor-Johnson, who plays such a convincing psycopathic hillbilly asshole, that I actually laughed. (You know when something is done so well that you actually laugh out loud and yell “YES!”)
From the opening credits, we know it’s a Tom Ford film. Even if you don’t know who Tom Ford is, you’ll know it’s a “somebody with a unique vision’s” film. (Those who have seen the opening credits know what I’m talking about.)
And a unique vision was required. The film is actually a story within a story – the “real world” taking place in upscale LA (one with which Ford is infinantly familiar). The “inner world” is a book manuscript Amy Adams is reading, taking place in very rural Western Texas – a juxtaposition that is visually and thematically interesting in and of itself.
However, I wasn’t engaged 100% of the time. Some scenes ran long, which was artfully done in some areas (the final scene, which is immaculate), and added to the suspense-thriller aspect in other cases; but, dragged on in certain scenes, and I found myself turning to my phone to look up trivia on IMDb.
Plus, as I said, I was in a fucked up mood the rest of the day. If you’re doing a double feature, I’d follow this one up with Beauty and the Beast.