Fashion Designer turned director Tom Ford returns with his second feature, Nocturnal Animals. Amy Adams and Jake Gyllenhaal star in this dark tale of revenge. I had a free afternoon, so I went to check it out.
Susan Morrow (Amy Adams) owns an elite art gallery, but she lives a hollow existence. She is married to an unfaithful husband with a failing art business, has given up on being an artist and is filled with regret over her life with her first husband Edward (Gyllenhaal) and her role in their break up. When Edward sends her a copy of his debut novel, she becomes haunted by its contents. Is this Edward’s way of getting revenge for the past?
Nocturnal Animals is a stunning piece of work, based on the 1993 Novel Tony and Susan by Austin Wright, Tom Ford has delivered a multi layered thriller that is a unique take on a revenge film. Ford, who also adapted the novel creates 3 narrative stands that wind tighter and tighter around the viewer. In the present, Susan is coming to terms with her life, as she reads Edward’s novel, a violent revenge thriller, it comes to life and is played out on screen. Finally, we are told in flashback how Susan and Edward met and fell in and out of love. These strands dovetail beautifully and come together to deliver an satisfying, if slightly ambiguous pay off.
Amy Adams is simply breathtaking in the lead. When we meet Susan, you feel sorry for her. Adams plays her as a damaged woman whose best years are behind her, she is unfulfilled in her work and her home life. However, as the narrative begins to unravel your sympathy vanishes and you are left with something that is barely empathy. She cements her position as one of the best actresses working today. Jake Gyllenhaal delivers once again is a dual role. As the fragile Edward, he is the character who is most relatable and as Tony (the lead character in the novel) he is a desperate man in a dreadful situation. It is another great performance to add to this guys impressive and diverse career. The support is top notch, Michael Shannon is excellent as a grizzled lawman, even the usually wooden Aaron Taylor-Johnson brings some real menace to the red-neck killer role. There are some single scene stealing cameos from Michael Sheen and the brilliant Laura Linney which round things out nicely.
Tom Ford certainly paints quite a picture and creates some moments of real tension, in particular the pivotal scene from the novel when Gyllenhaal’s character and his family are forced off the road by a group of violent red-necks, I had to check myself to make sure I exhaled. The film is beautiful to look at, Ford sets up the shots, which are expertly framed by British DoP Seamus McGarvey, whether it be the gratuitously wobbly nudity which opens the film, Adams simply sitting in a restaurant and everything in between, just sit back and drink it all in. A mention has to go to Abel Korzeniowski, whose score wonderfully sits in the background, jarring at all the right moments.
The film is a tough watch at times and doesn’t shy away from the more gruesome elements of Edward’s novel. As a piece of entertainment it is a tough ride, but as piece of film making it is stunning. Tom Ford is definitely some one whose career I will be watching with interest. Maybe not the perfect film for a Friday night, but this is a must see for anyone who appreciates the art of top quality film making.
Thanks for reading. Hope you folks enjoyed yourselves, catch ya later on down the trail.