Tom Ford’s Nocturnal Animals is a seductively dangerous tale.

nocturnal animals film review by peter spann

A film that makes you question your being, shakes you to the core and leaves you in an entirely different mindset. That makes the concept of genre’s redundant.

At a push Nocturnal Animals could be defined as a psychodrama, yet it harnesses all of the elements of horror, thriller and romance films and synthesises this feature into one that will undoubtedly gain cult status (although we may have to wait 10 years for that to happen).

Tom Ford has ingeniously used his influences of Alfred Hitchcock, David Lynch and Stanley Kubrick to create a skewed reality, and a mise en scene so enthralling you almost feel as though you’re in the feature yourself.

The plot lines are somewhat non-linear, making it quite a hard watch, but indisputably the narrative is worth the brain power to unravel the interlocking psychological drama.


If there was just one word to celebrate the painstaking attention to detail Tom Ford went through would be stylish.

The whole feature has a handcrafted air, with so much to explore, you can’t possibly take it all in with the first viewing. But isn’t that what makes a good film? One that you can watch time and time again and discover new and enthralling elements.

Nocturnal Animals is based on Austin Wright’s 1993 novel ‘Tony and Susan’ which looks at love, loyalty, false gods through a refreshingly new perspective. The majority of the credit for this feature has to go to Joan Sobel for her crisp editing skills which allows the feature to progress with transient ease.


The opening gives you a fair warning for the level of sexual carnality as you see the reality behind the glamour which is pinched with sorrow, depravity, and modernity for Susan Morrow (Amy Adams) LA art dealer and her creepy husband as their relationship is faltering.

Queue the ex husband (Edward Sheffield) Jake Gyllenhaal, between them, they revel in the anguished tale of assault and revenge which is the focus of Edwards unpublished novel. No other could have played Susan but Amy Adams, she’s truly captivating as an actress as she reads the harrowing tale the fictional world becomes more real than her own existence.

Love Turns to Hate

If the story wasn’t complex enough, you get to see flashbacks of Susan and Edward’s former life together which creates a third story strand. Make sure you have ample coffee for your first viewing of Nocturnal Animals, and perhaps a pen and paper to take notes.

Tom Ford cleverly illustrates how easily love can turn into hate through the lens of widescreen cinematography. Ford perfectly contrasts the realities through the sinew of the intertwined settings.

Taking the allure from Susan’s LA life in perspective of her love with Edward. Each reality feeds into each other until they merge into one neo noir narrative as the elements change boundaries to create a blend of decadent yet discordant horror.

There hasn’t been a film this seductively captivating since Kubricks Eyes Wide Shut.


by Peter Spann

Peter Spann is a business coach, writer, presenter and investor.