Directed by Gucci and Yves Saint Laurent fashion designer Tom Ford (and adapted by Ford from Austin Wright's 1993 novel, Tony and Susan), this is a multi-layered 'story within a story' that will disturb viewers while cementing them to their seats. The main framing narrative follows a wealthy art gallery owner named Susan (Amy Adams at her least bubbly) whose second marriage is falling apart as apathy and depression consume her boring life. The actual story begins when she receives a book manuscript by her ex-husband (Jake Gyllenhaal) whom she had left 19 years earlier, a novel pinned with a note asking for her to provide feedback. As she reads, the film takes us directly into the novel itself which turns out to be a violent neo-noir thriller revolving around a man (also Gyllenhaal) whose vacation with his family has turned deadly and has driven him to hire a detective (played by Michael Shannon in arguably the finest performance of his career to date) as his world slips into inexorable nightmare. The film cleverly mixes the two narratives as Adams (along with the audience) attempts to piece together parallels between the fictional novel and her own life. In each of the two narratives director Ford exhibits a perfect merging of style with theme: Its framing story displays the polished visual opulence of the director's background in fashion design with a deliberately measured pacing in its editing; in contrast, the inner narrative embraces the sordid, grimy visual ugliness of an rough-hewn pulp novel while employing a more forceful rhythm in the editing. The effect is as if a stately Bruckner symphonic movement were invaded by polytonal tone clusters from a Charles Ives piece. Director Ford has said, "[a film] can be entertaining, but if you leave the theater and it doesn't stay with you, doesn't haunt you, doesn't challenge you, then it's not successful." "Nocturnal Animals" succeeds by these standards beyond his wildest dreams. When I first saw it, I left the theater staggering as though hit by a brickbat. Since then it has stayed in my mind and continues to haunt me, even as I write this review now.