Review: Nocturnal Animals (2016)

Based on the 1993 novel Tony and Susan by Austin Wright, Tom Ford's gloriously haunting Nocturnal Animals features a star-studded cast - Amy Adams, Jake Gyllenhaal, Michael Shannon, Aaron Taylor-Johnson, Armie Hammer, Laura Linney, Isla Fisher, Jena Malone, Michael Sheen and Andrea Riseborough included - alongside sublime cinematography and a constant sense of dread. It's wonderful.
Susan Morrow (Adams) is a rich art gallery owner, living in her arty world in LA with arty folk. She's married to Armie Hammer's unfaithful businessman Hutton Morrow. She was previously married to aspiring novelist Edward Sheffield (Gyllenhaal) who, out of the blue, sends her a copy of the manuscript for his new novel - Nocturnal Animals - which is named after his nickname for Susan and also dedicated to her. With Hutton out of LA for the weekend on a 'business trip', Susan becomes absorbed by the manuscript - the story played out on screen for us to view - and questions the way she previously treated Edward, reaching out to him again.
Gyllenhaal also plays the main character of Tony Hastings in Edward's novel - driving late one night in Texas with his wife and teenage daughter, their car is forced off the road by three local criminals; Taylor-Johnson having a star turn as the terrifying and menacing gang leader Ray Marcus, and he's absolutely brilliant. The gang kidnap Tony's wife and daughter, and he sets out in the night to find them. Throughout the night drive and Susan's own surprise visions of Ray, there's more than a nod to David Lynch in Ford's film.
Edward's manuscript is captivating and has you glued to the screen. You never quite know what's going to happen next apart from there's something bad around the corner. Susan is surprised, shocked and in awe of what Edward has written and through a series of flashbacks to their failed marriage, we get to understand why he may want his revenge on her.
Never pretentious, Nocturnal Animals moves well between being absolutely cold as ice through to having you worried and caring about the characters in Edward's novel. LA, like in any Bret Easton Ellis novel, is portrayed as being 'other worldly', Susan stalking the interior of her glass house like a panther in a zoo cage. This is a movie that will get you, and stay with you long after you've left it. Lynch has always been the master of beautiful dark things but Ford is hot on his heels. Just like A Single Man, Ford shows he's already a phenomenal filmmaker with just two movies under his belt and we want to see more and more.
5/5 Dead behind the eyes arty stares
Watch it for: It looks fabulous
Watch out for: An unexpected jump on a baby monitor