First look: Tom Ford's second film Nocturnal Animals

EDGAR was at the exclusive DIFF screening of the new flick starring Amy Adams and Jake Gyllenhaal.

Robert Chilton December 13, 2016

EDGAR took its seat at the Madinat Arena last night for the DIFF premiere of fashion designer Tom Ford's new film Nocturnal Animals.

When we weren't admiring the movie's gorgeous design and the even better suits, we jotted down some thoughts. (The following contains plot points, but no spoilers). 


1. It's a dark psychological thriller and it's very stylish. Amy Adams plays Susan Morrow, the owner/curator of an LA modern art gallery whose marriage to a handsome but failing businessman (Armie Hammer) is breaking down. Out of the blue her ex husband Edward Sheffield (Jake Gyllenhaal) sends her a manuscript of his novel titled Nocturnal Animals. 

She reads the book and we are taken into her mind where the novel's storyline unfolds. The novel tells the story of a man on a road trip (Jake Gyllenhaal again but as a different character) with his wife and daughter who get run off the road by a gang of three men. The movie then switches between these two stories.

2. The movie is puzzling, plain and simple. The plot is a little hard to follow at times as the storylines switch from a west Texas cop manhunt featuring small town drifters who wear cowboy hats and spit in the street to a slightly pretentious LA art world where everyone lives in amazing houses and wears wonderful clothes. Are there common themes here? Are there metaphors we're missing? We're not sure. 

3. Sheffield's novel seems to be a disguised dig at his ex wife for something she did (no plot spoilers here). But it's VERY disguised. In fact, it is so masked we're now thinking it wasn't a dig at all. But there's definitely some emotional baggage between them.

4. Michael Shannon plays a west Texas cop in the novel sequence and is a drawling, menacing, brooding presence. It seems that whenever Hollywood needs a guy who's just a little off centre, they call on Shannon and he usually delivers.

5. Jake Gyllenhaal does a fine job. He's a desperate man trying to help suspicious Texas police in their enquiries to find his wife and daughter; then he's playing a young novelist with romantic ideals, wooing Amy Adams in flashbacks to their first date. 

6. You'd think a movie directed, produced and written by Tom Ford would be a walking runway show for his brand. But a quick glance at the closing credits and we spotted Prada, Bulgari, Marc Jacobs and Miu Miu among others. Tom clearly likes to spread the love between his fashion pals. Also embedded in the credits were art pieces loaned by Damien Hirst and Jeff Koons. When Tom Ford calls and says he's making a movie, people seem to say yes.

The verdict

EDGAR's reaction as the first line of credits rolled after the film was this: hmmm. It's not bad, it's not great, but it is definitely thought provoking.

Ford has created an atmosphere of tension throughout the movie, brilliantly fed by Amy Adams' well-played fragility and uneasiness.