Nocturnal Animals (2016) Review

Updated on January 22, 2018
Ross Tanenbaum profile image

Ross is a student at the University of Maryland. He is planning on majoring in Film Studies and English.

A Dark Thriller of Intertwined Stories


It is always interesting in a film when the end credits roll and the audience is dead quiet. The audience is still trying to process what they just watched and what the complex story actually meant. Director Tom Ford captures this feeling in his new thriller.


Nocturnal Animals stars Amy Adams as Susan Morrow, a successful artist with a mysterious past. This past becomes uncovered as she is sent a strange book from her ex, Tony Hastings (Jake Gyllenhaal). The story in the book is shown on screen and Morrow is unsure of what this book could mean.

The film is split up into three separate stories. One is Adams in present day as she continues her career and reads the book. The second is the story that is contained within the book that Gyllenhaal writes and the the third is a series of flashbacks that show Adams and Gyllenhaal's relationship and what happened that caused them to go to their separate ways.


Adams is good as always in this role. She seems like someone who has everything together, but is hiding something very secretive. However, Gyllenhaal steals the show. His character in the novel is dealing with a very tragic situation and his character in the real world also has a very interesting relationship with Adams. He handles all of this with perfection. Gyllenhaal has become one of the best actors working today.

The supporting characters are also great. Michael Shannon plays a really cool cop who is trying to help Gyllenhaal in the novel. He provides some great humor and he is fantastic in this movie. He should be getting some Oscar consideration for this. Also, someone who should be getting Oscar buzz, is Aaron-Taylor Johnson. He plays an absolute, horrible sociopath and he completely transforms for this role. I did not even know it was him until the end credits.


Tom Ford also does a great job directing this movie. He makes the movie very suspenseful and keeps the movie at a steady pace. There are a lot of beautiful shots in this movie. The score in this movie is also really good. It is done by Abel Korzeniowski and there is a piece of music that repeats throughout and it is very captivating.

The story in Nocturnal Animals is very interesting, however, I did not love the way it was told. It does get a little bit confusing to keep up with the story because it keeps jumping back between real world and various timelines. I also think the story within the novel is so much better than the story in the real world. I honestly think the movie might have been better if it was just the novel story and did not have to jump back to the real world. Not that the story with Gyllenhaal and Adam's relationship is not interesting, it's just the novel was so much more entertaining.

Final Thoughts

Nocturnal Animals is still a very intriguing tale from start to finish. It is a thrilling tale and it makes the audience leave the theater with various interpretations of what happened in the story. It is a very dark and disturbing movie. It features great performances and great direction, but I wish the story was a little more fluid and concise.

Rating: 8/10


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