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60th BFI London Film Festival | Friday 14th October: Pick of the Day - Nocturnal Animals

Nocturnal Animals Amy Adams

Nocturnal Animals Amy Adams

Tom Ford follows up 2009’s quietly moving A Single Man, with the spellbinding Nocturnal Animals, a tale of marriage, art and ambition that slowly reveals itself as a chillingly cruel revenge thriller.

As you might expect, this is a movie that is stunning to look at; less predictably, it is also brutally tense. The cunning nested narrative revolves around Amy Adams’ wealthy, emotionally brittle Los Angeles gallery owner, Susan, who receives the manuscript of a novel, dedicated to her and written by her long-abandoned ex-husband Edward (Jake Gyllenhaal).

The novel turns out to be a brutal noir-like tale in which the mild, middle-class Tony (again played by Gyllenhaal), travelling by car across the badlands of West Texas with his wife (Isla Fisher) and teenage daughter (Ellie Bamber), has a terrifying night-time encounter with a trio of local rednecks led by Aaron Taylor-Johnson’s swaggering psychopath, Ray.

Ford cuts back and forth between this unfolding story and Amy’s reading of it, alone in her cold, modernist house, interspersed with flashbacks to her marriage to Edward, which foundered because of her lack of faith in his talent. And, as the anguished Tony seeks payback for his family’s ordeal, we slowly realise that the novel is itself an act of payback.

Nocturnal Animals is showing this evening at the Odeon Leicester Square at 6pm and also shows there tomorrow at 11.30 am and at the Ciné Lumiere on Sunday 16th October at 3.30pm.

A film critic for over 25 years, Jason admits the job can occasionally be glamorous – sitting on a film festival jury in Portugal; hanging out with Baz Luhrmann at the Chateau Marmont; chatting with Sigourney Weaver about The Archers – but he mostly spends his time in darkened rooms watching films. He’s also written theatre and opera reviews, two guide books on Rome, and competed in a race for Yachting World, whose great wheeze it was to send a seasick film critic to write about his time on the ocean waves. But Jason is happiest on dry land with a classic screwball comedy or Hitchcock thriller.