Seven years after premiering his directorial debut, “A Single Man,” at the Venice Film Festival, fashion designer Tom Ford returns to the festival with his second feature, “Nocturnal Animals.” And judging by the first reviews, he’s done an outstanding job the second time around. Starring Amy Adams and Jake Gyllenhaal, the film is based on “Tony and Susan,” a novel by Austin Wright, and follows the story of an art gallery owner who is haunted by her ex-husband’s novel, a thriller that she interprets as a revenge tale. Here’s what the critics have to say.
IndieWire’s Ben Croll gave the film an A-, writing that Ford’s ambitious second film is a “two-hander with a bite”:
“‘Nocturnal Animals’ is an impressively ambitious effort, one part mean Texas thriller, one part middle-age melodrama, and makes for a meta-textual riddle that is almost as pleasurable to reflect on as it to actually watch.”
Variety’s Owen Gleiberman called the drama a winner:
“‘Nocturnal Animals’ is a suspenseful and intoxicating movie — a thriller that isn’t scared to go hog-wild with violence, to dig into primal fear and rage, even as it’s constructed around a melancholy love story that circles back on itself in tricky and surprising ways.”
David Rooney of The Hollywood Reporter added:
“David Lynch meets Alfred Hitchcock meets Douglas Sirk in ‘Nocturnal Animals,’ a sumptuously entertaining noir melodrama laced with vicious crime and psychological suspense, which more than delivers on the promise of ‘A Single Man,’ writer-director Tom Ford’s first foray behind the camera seven years ago.”
Alonso Duralde of The Wrap praised the stars’ acting abilities:
“The performances here are consistently superb, from Adams and Gyllenhaal (playing two very different roles) to Michael Shannon (as a Texas lawman), Laura Linney (getting an unforgettable scene as Susan’s mother, a monstrous Manhattan society matron) and Karl Glusman (Love, The Neon Demon) as one of the kidnappers. The real standout is (Aaron) Taylor-Johnson, so effectively creepy as the ringleader of the novel’s miscreants.”
Giving the film five stars, The Guardian’s Peter Bradshaw wrote:
“Ford has surely raised his game from his faintly wan and over-determined drama ‘A Single Man’ from 2009. There is something much more uninhibited and even raucous about this picture, which combines melodrama with a kind of teasing sophistication … This is a terrifically absorbing thriller with that vodka-kick of pure malice.”
Rory O’Conner of The Film Stage gave the noir thriller an A- and noted:
“With everything going on, ‘Nocturnal Animals’ is the sort of narrative and tonal minefield that a lesser director could easily have gotten lost in. Ford allows us to consider and cherish each unique thread and wonder just how it could all possibly come together. Each place has its own vibe, almost its own genre, and it’s a credit to Ford, cinematographer Seamus McGarvey, and the entire production team that it works at all. This is the output of a great creative mind, testing the limits of this fanciful, wonderful tool he’s suddenly found at his disposal.”
“Nocturnal Animals” will be released in theaters on November 18, via Focus Features.