Directed by Tom Ford
Jake Gyllenhaal, Amy Adams, and Michael Shannon team up with American writer/director/designer Tom Ford in his latest “Nocturnal Adams”, a neo-noir thriller based on the 1993 novel “Tony and Susan” by Austin Wright.
This is Ford’s sophomore feature, and just like his debut, “A Single Man”, it was nominated for an Oscar (best supporting actor). Fearless, he didn’t vacillate in this difficult adaptation of a critically acclaimed book, which was republished with the title of the film after its release.
Susan Morrow (Adams) is a successful gallery owner who has everything in life except true love. Her indifferent husband, Hutton Morrow (Armie Hammer), a businessman prone to romantic adventures with other women, is hardly present in her life.
One day, Susan receives a manuscript for a novel written by her ex-husband Edward Sheffield (Gyllenhaal) whom she didn’t hear from in 19 years. The literary work, entitled Nocturnal Animals, is dedicated to her and comes with an invitation to dinner.
The novel’s contents disturb Susan. It describes a gruesome crime tale that has indirect connotations with their past relationship. After an initial reluctance, she decides to accept Edward’s invitation. What does this rendezvous can bring to them?
The writings are transferred to the screen as Susan pictures it in her head, and we see Gyllenhaal playing the novel’s protagonist, Tony, a good husband and father who lives a horrific situation while driving on a remote Texas highway in the middle of the night. He’s attacked by three evil men and left in a dirt dead end. His wife and teen daughter had worse fates: both were raped and then brutally assassinated. Detective Bobby Andes (Shannon), whose procedures are far from orthodox, is assigned to identify the offenders – Ray Marcus (Aaron Taylor-Johnson), Lou (Karl Glusman), and Turk (Robert Aramayo), and capture them.
The story unfolds with surprise and expectation and its structure alternates between reality and fiction, making us search uninterruptedly for parallels between what was written and what has happened. The layers are not completely detachable here, but that blurriness is where the beauty of the film lies.
Lacking a genius stroke for the finale, “Nocturnal Animals” depicts a nonviolent reprisal that feels good and justified. At some point, we don’t know if we should feel sorry for Susan, Edward, or both.
Even imperfect and with margin to improve, the film looks at love, success, and self-confidence with a mordant cynicism and irony.