A woman named Susan receives a book manuscript from her ex-husband — a man she left 20 years earlier — asking for her opinion of his writing. As she reads, she is drawn into the fictional life of Tony Hastings, a math professor whose family vacation turns violent.
ActorsStarring: Amy Adams, Jake Gyllenhaal, Michael Shannon, Aaron Taylor-Johnson, Isla Fisher, Armie Hammer, Laura Linney, Andrea Riseborough, Michael Sheen, Zawe Ashton, Jena Malone, Kristin Bauer van Straten, Ellie Bamber, Karl Glusman, Robert Aramayo, Graham Beckel, India Salvor Menuez, Imogen Waterhouse, Neil Jackson, Franco Vega, Lee Benton, Maria Zyrianova, Jack Wallace, Chelsea Taylor, Carson Nicely, Nick Hounslow, Tonia Marie Rosée, Amanda Fields, Josh Ford, Piper Major, Peggy Fields Richardson, Lori Jean Wilson, Michele Dunn, Janet Song
A successful Los-Angeles-based artist Susan Morrow (played by Amy Adams) is sent a manuscript of a novel by her ex-husband Tony Hastings (Jake Gyllenhaal). She is in a troubled relationship; left on her own for a weekend by her current husband and unable to sleep, she immerses herself in the novel. The story is one of violent abduction and grips her, causing Susan to recall her earlier brief marriage to Tony and the issues that caused it to fail. As the tale unfolds the plot of the novel starts to have subtle parallels with her former marriage. The book is not only dedicated to her but its plot seems almost written directly for her, indicating how Tony has overcome the weakness of character that caused her to leave him all those years ago.
“Nocturnal Animals” is beautifully shot, just as Tom Ford’s previous film “A Single Man” was. However this film has a much more engaging plot than its predecessor, and benefits from two strong acting performances by its two leads. As the narrative links between Susan’s life and the novel tighten, the viewer is drawn into her complex if subliminal relationship with her ex-husband, and the problems she has reconciling that with her present troubles. The performances manage to keep the audience engaged and intrigued with what are inherently some quite unsympathetic characters, a tribute to the actors and the script. The novel’s plot also has enough interest to keep everyone watching, and has a particularly good performance from Ray Marcus as a charismatic but distinctly menacing redneck. The film pulls its audience along at a good pace, weaving action in the novel sub-plot with the troubled lives of the main characters. It is a sophisticated, well shot and above all grown-up movie, a welcome contrast to the popcorn comic strip fare that mainstream Hollywood seems reduced to these days.