Director Tom Ford eponymous style resonates in fashion, jewelry and film; “Nocturnal Animals” reflects his inimitable visual, artistic, innovative, imaginative skills. Commencing with a video of a Botero-like nude, corpulent, garishly painted model, lustily gyrating, salaciously stunning, hypnotizing viewers at a high-end art gallery in Los Angeles; “Susan” (commanding presence of Amy Adams) the proprietor of the gallery is a cutting edge, perfectly plastic example of a contemporary “social X ray”; her immaculate persona masks the chaos within. Married to struggling, caddish, feckless financier “Hutton” (hunky, handsome Armie Hammer); frustrated, she receives a book,(“Nocturnal Animals”) dedicated to her, by her first husband “Edward/Tony” (blazing, remarkable dual performance by Jake Gyllenhaal) unraveling her staid, troubled, monotonous present. A story within a story, Susan revisits her past as the horrifying, gruesome scenario of Edward’s novel is revealed. Tough viewing, as a family is egregiously assaulted by ugly, amoral predators.
Presciently cast, especially larger-than-life Michael Shannon as “Bobby” the sheriff, struggling to bring the perpetrators to justice; Laura Linney, pulverizes as Susan’s conservative, socially defined, stagnant mother; Aaron Taylor-Johnson is gritty, ghastly, fabulously horrendous as diabolical “Ray”.
Ford’s films are glitzy, pristine, reminiscent of Architectural Digest, Feng Shui staged homes, where nothing disrupts the order; 2009, “A Single Man”, focuses on a Professor’s planned suicide while his flawlessly aligned home belies his overwhelming suffering. “Nocturnal Animals” is an incredible feat of balance between cleanliness, reflected in Susan’s world of Jeff Koons, Christopher Wool and Damien Hirst and filth, exhibited in the Texas wilderness, a landscape made-to-order for its disenfranchised criminals.
“Nocturnal Animals” haunts, touches the core of human despondency, revenge and the impossibility of retrieving what was irrevocably cast aside.