NOCTURNAL ANIMALS (2016)

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| Dir: Tom Ford

“Our world is a lot less painful than the real world.”

Fashion designer Tom Ford transitioned into movies with 2009’s visually striking and emotionally resonant A Single Man. It looked, spoke and felt like what many would expect a Tom Ford creation to be. Yet his much anticipated follow up shifts into a much darker area – a tense meta noir-thriller that surely takes inspirations from the likes of David Lynch and Nicolas Winding Refn. As ambitiously stylish as you would expect but with an aesthetic doesn’t overshadow the substance; it merely colours the rich emotional complexity. It’s an intelligent, elegant and gorgeous piece that establishes Ford as a diversely skilled artist in two sectors.

What a consuming, arresting and intoxicating experience this becomes. The novelistic narrative stream is certainly the more immediately engaging and thrilling, with Ford fluently tying its entertainment value around deeper melodramatic wrappings. But this unevenness is minor when the fictional revenge erupts just as devastatingly as its present day reality revenge does.Edward Sheffield and Tony Hastings (both Jake Gyllenhaal) both prove to not be weak men in parallel worlds. There’s also a nice moment where Hastings’ regret at his choices reflects Susan’s (Amy Adams) own.

The performances themselves are certainly major – Adams, Gyllenhaal, Fisher, Linney, Shannon (very unsurprisingly) and Taylor-Johnson (very surprisingly) play their individual notes with such quality. The often times unflattering close ups expose some brilliant work from Adams in particular, while Shannon is as effective as ever. Any film that casts Isla Fisher as a surrogate or ersatz for Amy Adams (in the films strongest sequence) deserves appreciation – that it did so and didn’t even make me notice the difference until the credits deserves adoration.

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