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With: Amy Adams, Jake Gyllenhaal, Michael Shannon, Aaron Taylor-Johnson, Isla Fisher, Ellie Bamber, Armie Hammer, Karl Glusman, Robert Aramayo, Laura Linney, Andrea Riseborough, Michael Sheen
Written by: Tom Ford, based on a novel by Austin Wright
Directed by: Tom Ford
MPAA Rating: R for violence, menace, graphic nudity, and language
Running Time: 116
Date: 12/09/2016

Nocturnal Animals (2016)

3 Stars (out of 4)


By Jeffrey M. Anderson

Fashion designer Tom Ford directs his second film, after A Single Man (2009), an adaptation of a novel by Austin Wright. It's an interesting story, and it's very prettily told, but Ford doesn't seem to get inside the grisly, Straw Dogs-like themes of the story-within-the-story, nor does he seem to make a connection overall. Amy Adams plays Susan Morrow, an art gallery owner who lives in a beautiful apartment with a beautiful husband (Armie Hammer). An ex sends her the proof of his new novel, Nocturnal Animals. She reads, and we see the story of a family man (Jake Gyllenhaal) who is tormented by three evil hillbilly rednecks; they stop him on a night highway, kidnap his wife and daughter, and rape and kill them. A local police detective (Michael Shannon, a bright spot), ridden with lung cancer, helps him solve the crime. Then, we flash back to Susan meeting and starting a relationship with the author (also played by Gyllenhaal), eventually accusing him of being "weak." I guess the point is that he wrote the book as revenge on her? The movie doesn't completely coalesce, but it has enough twists and enough strong emotions to make it worth a look.

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