Susan Morrow receives a book manuscript from her ex-husband – a man she left 20 years earlier – asking for her opinion of his writing. As she reads, she is drawn into the fictional life of Tony Hastings, a mathematics professor whose family vacation turns violent.
We live in a country where our current presidential candidates fail to compare to our current president. We live in a country where minorities have been a subject to police brutality. We live in a country where you must enter debt by taking out a student loan and you are still not guaranteed a successful future. Are you uncomfortable yet? Comfortability won't be found here or in fashion designer turned director Tom Ford's second featured film Nocturnal Animals. The director forces you to become comfortable with being uncomfortable and the result is the most beautiful disturbingly gripping films of 2016.
> From writer/director Tom Ford comes a haunting romantic thriller of shocking intimacy and gripping tension that explores the thin lines between love and cruelty, and revenge and redemption. Academy Award nominees Amy Adams and Jake Gyllenhaal star as a divorced couple discovering dark truths about each other and themselves in NOCTURNAL ANIMALS.
Director Tom Ford starts the film with a close up of a handful of naked older white females dancing nakedly with bodies society would be disturbed by. Ford does not focuses on just one part of the body but every piece of fat, extra skin, crease, scar, and stretch mark to really push your comfortability. No, Ford is not going for shock value, especially not so early in the film because there will be plenty time for that, but he is being nice of enough to give the audience a disclaimer. A disclaimer that nothing will be more comfortable than the opening sequence and if you couldn't handle that then Nocturnal Animals is going to be one hell of a trip for you. Heck, regardless, Nocturnal Animals is one hell of a trip.
Nocturnal Animals itself contains a double narrative strand which consists of Susan's real life and her bringing the book of her ex-husband to life. Ford does not implement a voiceover to let you know that you are now in the world of the book yet he makes you feel that you are watching another film. Ford pulls off a difficult task in making the audience care about both narratives and you want to believe that both are fictional then the uncomfortability levels begin to raise once again as you are forced to remember that one is indeed reality. Tony & Susan, the 1993 novel that the films was adapted from, unfolds how intimate the act of reading could be as an author could tap into the reader's thoughts, feelings and experience. Tom Ford pulls this same feat but just with the act of watching a film.
With his first job being a fashion designer, one would only assume to be blown away by the visuals Tom Ford would create. This is true as various scenes of LA and west Texas are beyond stunning but no one would expect the clash of visuals Ford would create with LA and west Texas. The transition from super cool and grotesque LA to a brutal, violent and revengeful west Texas will once again raise your uncomfortability levels.
After all, this is a revenge film. We learn throughout the film that Susan, who comes from a wealthy family, falls in love with an inspiring author in Jake Gyllenhaal's Tony but would eventually go on to break his art in three different way. First, by telling him to take a step back from his dream of being an author. Secondly, aborting his child. Then, if the first two wasn't enough, she lives him for the handsome and dashing Armie Hammer's Hutton. Susan goes on to live the perfect life with Hutton and 20 years after her divorce with Tony, he decides to quietly place a novel about revenge in her mailbox. We feel Susan's chills as she reads the novel and without ever needing to say a word to her, Susan's perfect little world becomes to crumble
Jake Gyllenhaal and Amy Adams give us exactly what we expect from them. Aaron Taylor-Johnson offers a spine-chilling performance as Ray Marcus and Michael Shannon is fantastic as Bobby Andes. Tom Ford finally takes off his fashion designer hat and puts his fully-fledged director hat on as that was his approach with this film and two narratives. Tom Ford sustains the point that he is not a fashion designer turned director but a full-fledged director as a lesser director would have totally botched this film.
Universal Pictures, Focus Features, Artina Films, Fade to Black Productions by Tom Ford, Austin Wright.
Stars: Amy Adams, Jake Gyllenhaal, Michael Shannon, Aaron Taylor-Johnson.
Genres: Drama, Thriller
Keywords: based on novel or book parent child relationship hostage flashback cancer writer overbearing mother art novelist carjacking story within the story lung cancer
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