Film: Nocturnal Animals
Fashion designer Tom Ford has finally found the time to direct another film. Just like A Single Man eight years ago, the jet-black Nocturnal Animals makes a big impression.
The grotesque overture – Paolo Sorrentino meets David Lynch – immediately makes clear that Tom Ford did not put fashion designing on hold to make a throwaway flick. The whole screen is filled with a tremendously fat nude dancer. You cannot but look at the rolls of fat wobbling up and down during the aestheticised dance. It turns out to be an artwork. At the end, it becomes very clear what these images represent: the ugliness within.
Nocturnal Animals is much, much darker than the title would lead you to suspect and is a blend of revenge thriller, film noir, and melodrama. Three stories are woven together with masterful ease. In the first, an incredibly rich, stunningly beautiful, but deeply unhappy gallery manager (Amy Adams) is given a novel dedicated to her by the man she once dumped because he was too weak.
The second actually depicts that novel: in the dead of night on a deserted highway in Texas, a family runs into a gang of thugs. The father (Jake Gyllenhaal) cannot protect his daughter and wife (Adams). A chain-smoking detective (Michael Shannon) encourages his desire for revenge.
The third story delves into the past and shows the failed romance between the future gallery manager and the future author (Gyllenhaal). We can't reveal any more, but just know that the complex construction actually works seamlessly. Sporadically, you can tell that Tom Ford is not a perfect adept at staging. He controls absolutely everything, and as a result Nocturnal Animals sometimes looks a little calculated. But thankfully, the incredibly performances by Gyllenhaal and Adams (again!), drag you into the film.
Likewise, the camerawork by Seamus McGarvey and the music by the underrated Abel Korzeniowski immerse you in the night-time revelation of hidden ugliness.
> Nocturnal Animals. US, 2016, dir.: Tom Ford, act.: Amy Adams, Jake Gyllenhaal, Laura Linney, Michael Shannon, 116 min. UGC De Brouckère, UGC Gulden Vlies/Toison d'Or, White Cinema