|NOCTURNAL ANIMALS (director/writer: Tom Ford; screenwriter: based on the novel Tony and Susan by Austin Wright; cinematographer: Seamus McGarvey; editor:Joan Sobel; music: Abel Korzeniowski ; cast: Jake Gyllenhaal (Tony Hastings/Edward Sheffield), Amy Adams (Susan Morrow), Michael Shannon (Bobby Andes), Laura Linney (Anne Sutton), Armie Hammer (Hutton Morrow), Karl Glusman (Lou), Isla Fisher (Laura Hastings), Aaron Taylor-Johnson (Ray Marcus), Robert Aramayo (Turk), Ellie Bamber (India Hastings), Neil Jackson (Christopher); Runtime: 115; MPAA Rating: R; producers: Robert Salerno/Tom Ford; Focus Features; 2016)|
|"A violent emotional thriller
meant to shock."
by Dennis Schwartz
Susan Morrow (Amy Adams) is the sophisticated, hard businesswoman and glamorous owner of a hip LA art gallery, who is married to the straying handsome Wall Street wheeler-dealer Hutton Morrow (Armie Hammer). Seemingly blessed with a perfect life but in reality she finds herself unhappy, lonely and not liking the work she does. She regrets not becoming an artist and in living such a superficial life pumping up fake art. Susan divorced her aspiring writer first husband Edward Sheffield (Jake Gyllenhaal) twenty years ago she met while both were attending a NYC grad school because she believed he was too weak to succeed and realized she wanted to live a comfortable life. Her wealthy West Texas mom (Laura Linney) warned her against the marriage, saying she was just like her- at heart a bourgeois. After not hearing from Edward since the divorce, she surprisingly receives a manuscript from him entitled Nocturnal Animals. His first book is dedicated to her, as it tells a violent story about three vicious thugs (Aaron Taylor-Johnson, Robert Aramayo and Karl Glusman) on a desolate road at night in rural Texas, who force off the road a family car and rape and kill the wife (Isla Fisher) and daughter (Ellie Bamber) of the weak driver Tony Hastings (also Jake Gyllenhaal). A year later with the help of a cancer-stricken cop (Michael Shannon), they team-up to put closure to that cold case and get pioneer justice by not following regulations because of the corrupt local justice system.
The novel signals a symbolic revenge message the writer sends to his ex-wife. But there's not much meaning to grapple with in the novel, even if it's well-acted and the scenario is haunting. The pulp story is something that can be taken from the latest gruesome tabloid stories, something found daily in our newspapers.
REVIEWED ON 12/6/2016 GRADE: B-
Dennis Schwartz: "Ozus' World Movie Reviews"
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