"devastatingly raw experience that devours you whole"
Tom Ford brings art, passion and violence to our screens with his latest venture, Nocturnal Animals. Moments after this fades to black, don’t be alarmed if you can’t move for a fraction of a second, because this is one powerful; all-consuming feature that grabs your attention from the very instant you take your seat.
Ultimately, what we have here is an in-depth, harsh and at times brutally honest portray of how heartless humans can really be. Adapted to screen from Austin Wright's 1993 book titled Tony and Susan, just like the source material, this is a story within a story that explores and even morphs into the book that our lead character Susan (Amy Adams) is reading. A novel written by her ex-husband Edward (Jake Gyllenhaal), naming it something he used to call Susan, way back when ‘Nocturnal Animals’ poison’s her mind and plagues her thoughts so much that her immense guilt surfaces like a gigantic tidal wave of punishment.
We see Susan with a dashing, businessmen for a husband; Hutton (Armie Hammer) who is barely home for morning coffee these days, and to fill her day this woman seems to be spending her time at ‘pointless’ art shows and making friends with ‘fake’ people. It’s this book and her past life that pulls her straight back down to reality and opens her eyes to all her mistakes and idiocies she now embodies. The narrative here is hard to watch at times. As this horrific rape, murder mystery unfolds on the pages we are dragged into a deep and dark place, which Susan thought she had left behind with Edward. Yet even though she seems to have everything she has ever wanted beneath her designer clothes and fancy house, she is a shell. An empty shell doing meaningless things because she wants to make herself feel good, well feel something at the very least.
There is no escaping it, not only is Nocturnal Animals a well-established film in its own right, it’s a piece of art from start to finish. From the high fashion costumes scattered throughout, to the bizarre opening sequence, even to the décor in Susan and Hutton’s home this is an established, full of venom sculpture that moves the observer on every front. Aiding this feature on its intense path are the skilful and sinister notes of composer Abel Koreniowski who previously worked with Ford on A Single Man. So much of this is hard to endure and the emotions that will emerge (because, boy do they) are married dreamily by this booming score. Adams plays Susan with enough enduring qualities that make you envy her, almost despise her and at the same time feel for this woman stuck in this mundane lifestyle. Gyllenhaal brings one hell of a performance here even if it is mostly done through glassy eyes full of tears; whilst Aaron Taylor-Johnson plays the bad guy with enough malice for you to truly loath him every time he is on the screen.
As this reaches its glorious climax, the resolution seems to be both fulfilling yet extremely underwhelming. A well matched pair of feelings that sum up exactly what you have just watched. With an opening that is sure to be talked about, Ford brings us something gripping, incredibly obscure and above all else deeply sad. Just like Susan’s thoughts, this story will be dancing through your dreams for days on end.