Nothing about Nocturnal Animals is positive except the exceptional performances from A-list actress Amy Adams and the always interesting Jake Gyllenhaal and Michael Shannon.
The film blends two stories into one. In story one, Adams plays Susan Morrow, the ex-wife of Gyllenhaal’s Tony Hastings. Her story and theirs are told in flashbacks. When Susan and Tony me,t he was striving to be a writer. That career is a bust, so she unceremoniously dumps Hastings for Armie Hammer’s rich and womanizing Hutton Morrow.
Years later, he finally finishes a book and sends Susan a copy. The film’s second story is the plot of the book.
Most of the movie is the book, and it casts Gyllenhaal as a hapless husband whose wife and daughter are kidnapped after a car chase. He’s desperate to get them back and enlists the help of Shannon, who plays a rogue Texas cop. The wife in the story is played by Isla Fisher (Keeping Up with the Joneses), who looks a lot like Adams.
The irony is not lost on Susan, who seems to regret splitting the sheets. In the note accompanying the book, Tony says he wants to meet with her. Why does he want to meet? Will she go? Do you care?
Not really. At least at first. This is a movie that stays with you after leaving the theater, and later — after you think about it a while — yes, you do care. The credit for the movie hangover goes to fashion designer and writer/director Tom Ford, who did the equally depressing A Single Man in 2009. He pens his screenplay from Austin Wright’s novel Tony and Susan.
Yeah, I haven’t heard of it either.
Anyway, Ford is brilliant at mood setting. This one is as much a downer as anything you’ll ever see. So if you tend to be depressed, grab an extra tab of whatever you use to medicate the condition and hold on.
Director: Tom Ford
Stars: Amy Adams, Jake Gillenhaal, Michael Shannon, Armie Hammer, Isla Fisher
Mr. Movie rating: Rated R for mature themes, violence and language. It’s playing at the Carmike 12, The Fairchild Cinemas Queensgate 12, Walla Walla Grand Cinemas.
5 stars to 4 1/2 stars: Must see on the big screen.
4 stars to 3 1/2 stars: Good film, see it if it’s your type of movie.
3 stars to 2 1/2 stars: Wait until it comes out on DVD.
2 stars to 1 star: Don’t bother.
0 stars: Speaks for itself.