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NOCTURNAL ANIMALS – Dark Visions

nocturnalanimals

Directed by Tom Ford
Starring Amy Adams, Jake Gyllenhaal, Michael Shannon

Celebrated designer Tom Ford tries his hand at directing for the second time. This time he brings his design eye to a dash of dark Texas noir in Nocturnal Animals.

LA art dealer Susan Morrow’s (Amy Adams) bored existence is thrown into disarray when she receives a manuscript from her ex-husband (Jake Gyllenhaal). This novel, dedicated to Susan, is a dark tale about a man who sees his wife and child kidnapped on a country road one dark night. It is a tale of grief, loss, violence and revenge. Disturbed and fascinated by the writing, Susan recognises her past in the novel and reflects upon events, slowly unravelling her present, as she begins to reconsider her future.

Can the visual eye of one medium translate into another? The answer here is -yes. Ford almost makes you sick with envy at the talent he has on display. Like its opening title sequence of obese strippers gyrating as a work of modern art, Nocturnal Animals is – beautiful, ugly, hypnotic, disturbing, meticulously filmed, and more than a little inspired by the work of David Lynch. The result is a film that leaves you guessing to the end as to what will happen, and even past that point as you discuss its ramifications.

This is because Nocturnal Animals is a complex and multi-layered piece. As you dip into the story, the differing layers reveal fragments that affect another. On the surface we have the present day, with Susan reacting to the book she is reading. Then we have the events of the novel themselves, and how they relate to the present. We also have the flashback to the past, what has actually happened and what that means to the tale. The result is an intertwined myriad of emotions finding raw release, and that is done in such an artistic and haunting fashion.

Part of the beauty here is noticing how well crafted everything is. Each shot is thought out and executed with exquisite care, guiding us effortlessly between the various levels of the film. Nothing seems extraneous, instead informing us of character through numerous visual cues, presenting distinctly separate realities but melding them through mirroring of images.

Nocturnal Animals is a feast for the senses, dark and foreboding though it may be. From the bored affluenza of the LA art scene to a deserted Texas road at midnight, everything is rendered in loving detail.

DAVID O’CONNELL

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