Blu-ray Review Drama

'Nocturnal Animals' Blu-ray Review: Stylish revenge thriller serves up double the payback

February 21, 2017Ben MK

They say revenge is a dish best served cold. And in the case of Nocturnal Animals — a revenge tale within a revenge tale, and the new noir drama from fashion designer and A Single Man director Tom Ford — the old adage doesn't just hold true; it takes on double the relevance.

In it, Amy Adams plays Susan Morrow, a disaffected L.A. art gallery owner dealing with issues both personal and professional. But even with her business struggling and her husband Hutton's (Armie Hammer) eye wandering, there's one thing that haunts Susan the most; and that's the cruel way she ended her relationship with ex-husband Edward Sheffield (Jake Gyllenhaal). Now, years after their split, Edward, now a novelist, has sent Susan an advance copy of his book — aptly titled "Nocturnal Animals" — which he has also ominously dedicated to her.

As Susan makes her way through Edward's book, she can't help but notice the parallels between its tortured central character, Tony (also played by Gyllenhaal), and her ex-husband. Meanwhile, Ford — who has expertly adapted the film from author Austin Wright's 1993 novel, "Tony and Susan" — seizes the opportunity to both compare and contrast Tony and Susan's worlds, mirroring and intercutting the two through stylish visuals, while also juxtaposing Susan's sleek, ultra-modern surroundings with the sun-baked and gritty Hell in which Tony finds himself trapped.

The supporting cast also includes Laura Linney, Aaron Taylor-Johnson and Isla Fisher. However, it's Michael Shannon who saunters in and steals the show as a Texas lawman with nothing to lose named Bobby Andes. For while the story's overall seriousness leaves precious little room for humor, it's impossible not to be amused by Shannon, whose quirky yet suitably intense delivery brings some much-appreciated levity to the movie, putting him in excellent company among such cult-favorite actors as Christopher Walken, John Malkovich and Jeff Goldblum.

Nocturnal Animals hits Blu-ray with a 1080p transfer that's at times sleek, at times gritty, nicely highlighting the duality of the movie's striking cinematography. There is one constant, though, and that's that the image quality here is superb overall, with no shortage of film-like textures and robust hues, contrasting the cold, semi-monochrome palette of Susan's world with the sun-scorched, warmer tones of Tony's. As for the audio, the proceedings are largely dialogue-driven, with the disc's 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio sound mix filling in the gaps in the sound design capably, from the sophisticated and brooding score, to the sounds of screeching tires, arid winds and gunshots.

Universal's two-disc Blu-ray release includes an iTunes/UltraViolet digital copy, a DVD and the following Blu-ray extra:

  • The Making of Nocturnal Animals (11:18) - A three-part making-of featurette ("Building the Story," "The Look of Nocturnal Animals" and "The Filmmaker's Eye: Tom Ford") that touches on the structure of the film, its characters and its themes, the role that lighting, color and wardrobe played in the film, and the nuances of the storytelling that viewers might miss the first time around.

Nocturnal Animals is available from Universal Pictures Home Entertainment as of February 21st, 2017. The Blu-ray features English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1, Spanish and French DTS 5.1, and English Dolby Digital 2.0 Descriptive Audio tracks. The film is presented with English SDH, Spanish and French subtitles. The total runtime is 1 Hr. 56 Mins.

* Reviewer's note: Portions of this Blu-ray review were adapted from my original review of the theatrical release, published on November 18th, 2016.

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