American fashion designer Tom Ford wowed audiences and critics alike with his directorial debut A Single Man back in 2009. Praised for his elegant camerawork and exquisite film making, Ford returns in style again with his latest picture Nocturnal Animals. Following the life of Susan Morrow (Amy Adams) a successful art gallery owner, her life takes a downward spiral when she receives a manuscript from her ex-husband. Deciding to read the manuscript, she discovers the dark tale that lies inside the novel. While reading the book which is played out on-screen, she decides to look back in the past and confront dark moments that still haunt her.
Director Tom Ford casted well for this film as the whole ensemble gives brilliant performances that really elevate the story. The notable stand out performances are quartet Jake Gyllenhaal, Michael Shannon, Amy Adams and Aaron Taylor-Johnson. These four deliver some of the best, surprising and touching pieces of work this year. Amy Adams as per usual, gives us a commanding presence on-screen and firmly reminds us of her versatility and experience that she possesses. Michael Shannon continues to dazzle and entertain as Bobby Andes, the lieutenant in the film. His charm and unique acting ability gives us one of the more interesting cop personalities in recent time. Continuing his incredible run of form on screen that doesn’t seem to be coming to an end, Jake Gyllenhaal gives what I believe to be one of his best performances yet as Tony Hastings but more so as his alter ego Edward Sheffield. Sheffield being the main character in the manuscript, his story is of heartbreak, revenge and distress. Gyllenhaal pumps energy and emotion to an unbeatable level that will have you on your knees begging for more and most likely, some tears will roll down your face at some point during the film. Most surprising though is English actor Aaron Taylor-Johnson. The young Brit provides us with an interesting insight into his acting abilities. Portraying Ray Marcus in the manuscript of the film, his character is of pure evil and holds no remorse for his actions. Taylor-Johnson is the scare factor of the film and shows a whole new side of the actor that we haven’t seen before, and believe me; you will never forget this performance.
Continuing on from his debut film, Tom Ford gives us another spectacular film that looks beautiful and elegant. Even though the subject matter isn’t supposed to be beautiful or elegant, the American director manages to make it look like a feast to the eyes of the audience. Going between two worlds and storylines in the film, Ford does extremely well to keep the pacing of the film on the right track. There isn’t a time in the film when I felt lost or confused. The best thing about his direction is that he continues to shock and surprise the audience. There wasn’t a moment when I thought it was becoming predictable and that’s what I most enjoyed about the film.
Even though as a whole, the film is enjoyable, one half of the film is a lot more interesting than the other. The acting out of the manuscript is by far and away the best thing about the film. When it moves over to Amy Adams’ characters reading the manuscript took away the effect that the film was having on me. In the films defence, Ford does enough for the other half of the film that I didn’t enjoy to keep you gripped until you went back into the other part of the picture. Nocturnal Animals has the best ensemble performance this year. No one drops the bat; every single actor on-screen gives a commanding performance to keep you gripped from the first second to the last. Interesting, thought-provoking, strange, erotic, there’s almost no word to describe this movie, but one I would use is fantastic. 4.5 out of 5 stars.