Jake Gyllenhaal in Nocturnal Animals

Nocturnal Animals (Film Review) – Disturbing, Unsettling, Brilliant

Nocturnal Animals is a psychological thriller written, co-produced, and directed by Tom Ford and stars Amy Adams, Jake Gyllenhaal, Aaron Taylor-Johnson, Isla Fisher and Michael Shannon. This is Tom Ford’s second directorial effort and it tells the story of an art gallery owner, played by Amy Adams, whose actions in the past are now at the forefront of her mind due to reading a novel which was written by her ex-husband, played by Jake Gyllenhaal.

My Knowledge and Expectation of Nocturnal Animals

I knew little about this film when sitting down to watch it at my local cinema. Quite honestly, it was the strength of the cast which made me really interested to see Nocturnal Animals in the first place. Additionally, I knew little about Tom Ford whose only previous directorial effort was 2009’s A Single Man which is a film I have not seen yet. As a result, I went into the film not really knowing what to expect.

Amy Adams in Nocturnal Animals

My Thoughts on Nocturnal Animals

I have to say, I am so glad about this because Nocturnal Animals floored me. Any expectations I had about how good this film would be were exceeded to a very large degree. Firstly, the performances in this film are incredible. Amy Adams is great and Aaron Taylor-Johnson is unrecognisable in this film by giving a chilling, dark performance. This was a stark contrast to his previous work in films such as Kick-Ass and in the Marvel Cinematic Universe as the character of Quicksilver.

Yet, the standouts are Jake Gyllenhaal and Michael Shannon. They give performances which rank amongst the very best they have given in their careers so far. Gyllenhaal plays two characters in Nocturnal Animals and he shines in his raw, powerful and heartbreaking portrayal of Tony Hastings. He gives his absolute all in this film and Shannon gives an equally great performance which I hope will be recognised.

The Stories

In this film, three stories are happening at the same time and it can be a struggle for a film to tell these stories with equal importance. Nocturnal Animals finds the right balance and the stories are seamlessly interwoven which makes the more emotional moments hit that much harder. While there are small moments of humour which relieve the tension, this film is emotional and harrowing and I struggle to think of another film released this year which has impacted me in the same way.

Michael Shannon in Nocturnal Animals

Truthfully, you will not forget Nocturnal Animals. You will think it about for a while after you’ve seen it and I am still trying to figure out the overall meaning of the film due to the various themes in this film such as cynicism, revenge, regret, proving yourself, shallowness and the barbaric nature of humanity.

Overall, Nocturnal Animals ranks amongst the very best films I have seen this year. While I may struggle to watch it again due to the harrowing elements within the film, it will stay with me for a long time due to the fantastic performances by the cast, its themes and the impact each story had on me.

Because of this, I definitely feel that Nocturnal Animals will be recognised once awards season starts and it deserves to be recognised as the film is a wonderful achievement. Tom Ford deserves a lot of credit for making this film and I look forward to seeing what he does in the future.

6 thoughts on “Nocturnal Animals (Film Review) – Disturbing, Unsettling, Brilliant”

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