This is a tale
of redemption, revenge, love and cruelty. It opens with a
strong musical score as a number of morbidly obese girls dance
topless upon pedestals seemingly pretending to be debutantes. Adding to
the fanfare special effect confetti drops through the frame.
All-American girls showcasing their goods and talents. Bordering on the
macabre, the tone for the film is immediately set.
Amy Adams plays a real-life West Texas debutante, Susan Morrow, who
lives an unfulfilling life of daunting privilege with her handsome
husband, Hutton Morrow, (Armie Hammer). As Hutton prepares for
yet another last-minute weekend high-finance business meeting in New
York, relationship fissures widen. A pensive Susan reflects on the state
of her marriage with Hutton after a 'not-so-discreet' phone conversation
from Hutton's elevator as he is arriving at a penthouse suite amid
feminine gaiety as Susan opens a plain, white, mail shipping box. In it she discovers a black and white manuscript titled, "Nocturnal
Animals," by Edward Sheffield, Susan's former husband and first true
Nocturnal Animals opens up a fictional world etched within Susan's consciousness. Using parallel story
lines, present and fictional, coupled with flashbacks to when Edward and
Susan first met and their ensuing courtship and short-lived marriage.
Laura Linney, plays Susan's West Texas Republican mother, and delivers
some of the film's best lines during a martini lunch where she lambasts Susan for even considering a marriage to "weak'
Edward. However, the real storytelling takes place
within the pages of the manuscript.
Self-reflective and dramatic the
narrative is full of conflict and escalating tensions as a husband and
wife, (Jake Gyllenhaal
and Isla Fisher), travel at night across rural West Texas with their
teenage daughter, India (Ellie Bamber). Without
even as much as a lit billboard, out of a pitch dark blackness a
vehicle approaches the family's suburban mid-sized car at a high-rate of
speed. The car is driven erratically and its occupants are behaving
wildly as they pass. Not too much to worry about until they decide to
force the car off the road. Mayhem ensues as the hellions
carjack the vehicle with the women inside leaving Tony on the
side of the road in the dark. Soon a vehicle returns to
pick up Tony. He's informed the gang leader wants to make amends and that
Laura and India want Tony brought to where they are being held hostage.
Fearing the worst Tony manages to escape and eventually makes his way
to a law enforcement office to make an abduction/missing persons report
to lawman Bobby Andes (Michael Shannon).
Director Tom Ford
("A Single Man") has made an emotional and psychological thriller with superb acting, strong production values as well as excellent storytelling.