Nocturnal Animals is brilliant, but not for the faint of heart

By: Scott Emigh, Editor-in-Chief

Last week I rented Nocturnal Animals at Redbox, primarily due to my fondness for Jake Gyllenhaal and Amy Adams. 

The film contained a number of adult themes that may turn off some viewers, but for those who can stomach it, it also contains some of the best storytelling and acting performances of 2016.  

Susan Morrow (Adams) owns an art gallery in Los Angeles and struggles with a failing marriage and distant husband. She receives a book written by her ex-husband Edward Sheffield (Gyllenhaal), which is soon to be published.

The film switches between present, past, and the fictitious world in Sheffield's novel. Engrossed in his text, Morrow envisions herself and Sheffield as the story's protagonists. The couple embark on a cross-country road trip and find themselves harassed by a gang of rural West Texans.

The film is dark and violent, and may lie outside of many viewers' comfort zones. The film opens with extensive nudity, is riddled with profanities, and features numerous scenes that may be traumatic for some viewers.

That warning aside, the film is one of the best of 2016 for those who are comfortable with R-rated movies. The neo-noir thriller is thoroughly engrossing and hard to look away from, even for a moment. The direction and cinematography are superb, the acting is Oscar-worthy, and the story is as original as it is mesmerizing. 

Nocturnal Animals is written and directed by Tom Ford, based on the novel "Tony and Susan" by Austin Wright. It currently holds a 73% approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes, and received nominations for 78 awards. Ford received nominations for both Best Director and Best Screenplay at the Golden Globes. Michael Shannon received an Oscar nomination for Best Supporting Actor. Aaron Taylor-Johnson won the Golden Globe for Best Supporting Actor.