I Finally Saw Amy Adams' 'Noctornal Animals' And I Have Thoughts

Nocturnal Animals Susan Morrow Amy Adams Focus Features
Focus Features

“Nocturnal Animals” is a movie that will have you scratching your head if you do not go into it expecting an art-house take on the suspense genre. Instead, the Amy Adams starrer wraps high emotion into a tale of foreboding. Do not get me wrong. There is a lot that Adams’ team-up with Jake Gyllenhaal has going for it, sleek direction, simmering performances, and unique storytelling. The result? A lot of thoughts.

Okay, let’s get the elephant out of the “Nocturnal Animals”-filled room. The Amy Adams-led thriller has been out for a long time, and thanks to Netflix, it continues to garner viewers. Naturally, the latter would pertain to me. So yes, despite the hype surrounding the film starring a truly all-star cast, and the ensuing acclaim that followed it in 2016, I never watched it.

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It has taken until 2021 for yours truly to sit down and watch “Nocturnal Animals,” a thriller brewing with dark drama that oozes out of its every pore. “Nocturnal Animals” is a lot to take in, especially for those who are fans of the movie’s stunning ensemble. In one non-stop shop, you have Amy Adams, Jake Gyllenhaal, Michael Shannon, Laura Linney, and an intensely disturbing turn from Aaron Taylor-Johnson.

What story brought them all together? Amy Adams’ character is the key. Susan (Adams) works in the art world, and yet her life is anything except a piece of art. She suspects her second husband is cheating on her, and her career is on shaky ground. Enter Jake Gyllenhaal’s Edward, Susan’s unseen ex-husband, who sends her a manuscript of his book.

About That Novel

A curious Susan dives head-first into her ex’s subversive novel. Its author, Edward, remains a mysterious figure in the present day. Meanwhile, Susan’s mental rendering of the book casts him in its lead role: Tony. In the novel, Tony is a husband and father who takes his family on a fateful road trip. The eerie story she reads subsequently twists and turns Susan’s carefully crafted world upside down.

The movie takes turns switching between Susan’s current and past life and the novel’s disquieting unspooling. What “Nocturnal Animals” manages in this regard is nothing shy of respectable. Alternating timelines is currently a budding narrative path, and some do better than others. It is no easy feat, and unlike television, films have less wiggle room. Nevertheless, the Amy Adams’ vehicle nails it with art-house ease.

A Dying Genre

“Nocturnal Animals” is what movies were before superhero mania made it impossible for your favorite stars to gather for an organic project. Oh, how I miss those days. Back to the movie, though. It is definitely worth watching for no other reason than movies such as this one are heading towards “relic” status. Films like “Nocturnal Animals” are not getting made anymore, and it is frankly tragic.

As of 2021, there are fewer stories with twisty endings or challenging plots getting told anymore. The same cut, copy, paste movies are constantly churned out instead of thought-provoking dramas with a sharp edge that cuts the conscience. Nowadays, there are fewer stargazing dramas with mature themes and symbolic meanings that make viewers think or, more importantly, wonder.

The Performances

“Nocturnal Animals” is excellently directed by Tom Ford, and the elaborate story gets weaved with artful intrigue. It provides viewers with a lot of food for thought, as any project starring Jake Gyllenhaal tends to do (see: “Enemy,” “Prisoners,” “Nightcrawler”). Gyllenhaal is one of the best and most transformative actors of his generation, as his turn in “Nocturnal Animals” provides ample evidence to support.

All of this goes without pointing out that the sparkling chemistry of Amy Adams and Jake Gyllenhaal. Someone, please give Adams and Gyllenhaal the chance to be in a romantic drama that gives them the space to develop their chemistry through a story where it is the driving centerpiece. Adams and Gyllenhaal would knock it out of the park, Netflix.

Rating: 8.3/10