Nocturnal Animals pairs Amy Adams with Jake Gyllenhaal, in an emotionally riveting piece of drama. It’s Tom Ford’s second directorial venture but not as smooth talking as his clothes. The film is an adaptation of the novel Tony & Susan, by Austin Wright, where the protagonist, Susan Morrow, is the owner of an art gallery stuck in a dead-end marriage; Morrow’s husband, Hutton, cheats on her often even though the relationship began as a window of escape for Morrow from her first marriage to Edward Sheffield.
The film has many dark elements to it which wasn’t particularly nicely fitting into an otherwise seamless narration – Edward’s debut novel, for example talks of rape and murder but his book isn’t even the slightest bit reflective of the man Morrow was once married to. Susan knew Sheffield as a man with romantic tastes in life and yet no drive to actually follow up his big plans for literary-success. There are further raw clashes in a movie that can be also termed ‘as an inherently soft drama’ which makes for grossly uncomfortable viewing – these are inclusive of difficult confrontations and investigations outlined in Edward’s book. At certain times, Susan dissolving her marriage to Edward by cheating on him with Hutton, seems like a calmer alternative than all of the Texan brutality. The film wraps up with Edward getting even with Susan as she she gets stood up by him in a restaurant, which was frankly a nice enough ending.
The film is watchable for Jake’s performance as a dejected (and at the same time hopeful young man) but Amy Adams seems so lifeless and free-of-emotions in the film sometimes. With it’s half-violent storyline, the movie proves to be emotionally draining more often than not but is still absorbent in spaces which highlight the author’s first piece of literary work and how a reader (personally connected to the author) receives it.