TOM FORD, both a famous fashion designer and a movie director has put on screen a piece of extraordinary and exceptional written art. ‘Tony and Susan’ book has an additional imaginative layer, not so common even for the bestsellers, chosen to become movies. Austin Wright, an author of the original book, have accomplished something more than just a detective story with a dark atmosphere of despair. He puts his characters into another inner story, called Nocturnal animals, blurring the line between two fictional realities.

Nocturnal animals explained

SUSAN MORROW, the female protagonist of the “main” plotline reads a book of her former husband. The story itself is turned out to be much more intimate than it looked like at the beginning. “Nocturnal animals” novel hides the personal story of Susan and Edward, love and sorrow. Susan, as the main character of the “real” plotline deeps into a story and a fate of Tony Gastings, a fictional character, who resembles the image of her own husband. The movie adaptation by Tom Ford emphasizes this emotional conflict by means of artistic shapes, music and plot points. The book inside the movie, a story inside another story, now reflects the very personal issue of an allegory.

In both “Tony and Susan” book and “Nocturnal animals” movie this inner story grabs out the complete attention of the audience. The creators of both pieces of art use a system of contrast and emotional markers and put them into the “real” plotline. Even “Tony and Susan” title itself resembles this allegorical contradiction. Susan from the so-called real world (indeed fictional) is the first protagonist. The second one is presented not with Edward, but with Tony, a character of Edward’s book called “Nocturnal Animals”. Two characters from the different layers of a story emotionally interact both in a book and in a movie adaptation.

Nocturnal animals book and movie explained



Tom Ford “Nocturnal animals” movie has happened to be something more than a good traditional movie adaptation. Tom Ford is famous for his eccentricity and it’s twice exciting to figure out a scale of his artistic impact as a director. More than this, a majority of those who satisfied “Nocturnal animals” have no idea who was a director. Tom Ford is the author of another well-criticized project called “A single man” with Colin Firth. On closer examination, both pictures have almost identical visual and even emotional narrative style, including a soundtrack. “Nocturnal Animals” is truly Tom Ford’s uniquely designed project, based on Austin Wright’s “Tony and Susan” book. Director has also created a scenario of his vision.

Tom Ford Nocturnal animals analysis

Whereas “A single man” opens with a scene of a naked man’s body in water, “Nocturnal animals’ shocks even more with a grotesque dance, performed by two fat ugly women. The “real” plotline of Susan is depicted with a delicacy and style perfection. The dark build fashion with stone and glass and classic tones of the architecture. Extraordinary art gallery with sharply-dressed employees. Susan’s vivid makeup and the perfect style of her “perfect” husband, who found to be a betrayer and a bankrupt. This visually calibrated life in luxury is only a cover of an emotional ordinariness and poorness of her inner world and a sign of Susan’s day-to-day frustration.

Susan in a movie adaptation

The contrast plotline with TONY GASTINGS progresses within an American rural area with characters, dirty wrinkled dressed. His peace and harmony, joy and happiness are being collapsed within only one long night. Tom Ford gradually makes emphasize with his main protagonist for us to feel this contrast. Emotional “Nocturnal animals” soundtrack leads the audience both in scenes of maximum suspense and unexpected plot points. The movie instantly cooperates with our emotions and keeps up the pressure even within passive, contemplative scenes with minimum action within a frame.

Tony Gasting 'Tony and Susan' book analysis



The age of the characters of two main plot lines differs for Susan and Edward (Amy Adams and Jake Gyllenhaal in a movie). The novel points out that both Susan and Edward are 49 years old and they have been divorced for 25 years. “Nocturnal Animals” makes a difference with 19 years divorced and approximately 40 years old. Susan in a book is a housewife without ambitions to operate and Art gallery. Tom Ford has intensified the relations between these two characters with an abortion conflict, an act, which has completely destroyed the marriage. “Nocturnal Animals” makes a strong emphasize on Susan’s interaction with a book and a paranoia. Susan in a novel finished her story with a disappointment, as Edward has not called her, she makes a conclusion and faces the future. Susan is strongly involved in the situation and emotionally demolished.


“Nocturnal animals” pays great attention to the night road scene with some minor differences. The movie depicts a police car, who has not stopped to help a family. The novel shows us a few cars. One driver even makes a stop, an elderly man with poor hearing does not notice the danger and continues his way forward.

The scene of the Nocturnal animals movie

At daybreak, Tony reaches some living accommodations and ask for help and a telephone to call the police. Edward in the novel spends a chapter with an elderly couple, who do their best to figure out, where they should call at this early hour.

Tony Gasting craves for help

Bodies of Tony’s wife and daughter are left on a red sofa in a movie and hidden in some bushes in a book.

The murder scene in Tom Ford's movie

Susan in “Tony and Susan” book has three children and we see only one in “Nocturnal Animals”. Her elder daughter in a book is 15 years old, as well as the movie one spends her night side to side to her boyfriend.

The daughter of the main characters

In both a book and a movie, it takes a year between the homicide and the next active phase of the investigation, performed by a detective Booby Andes. Tony in a novel has some signs of a normal life. He intensifies his relations with a family, even spends time with some women.

Jake Gyllenhaal as Tony Gastings

The scene of a conflict between SUSAN and her mother is absent in a book and was added to “Nocturnal animals” movie by Tom Ford. Nevertheless, this moment shows us the transformation of our main character and a later closeness to the reality that her mother has previously stated.

Amy Adams as Susan Morrow

We all have memorized the scene, when Tony with detective Andes meets Ray on the backyard of his rural home, sitting on a toilet. This grotesque moment was added to the plot, as the characters in a novel first identify the potential murdered within a sports game.

The nocturnal animals movie analysis

One of the final scenes in “Tony and Susan” book depicts also two women, close friends of the detective Booby Andes, being the eyewitness of an act of reprisal.

Nocturnal animals ending explained