This is our second Amy Adams film, in which she demonstrates her versatility, playing a very different, emotionally cooler, part. The film has only garnered one Oscar nomination, for Michael Shannon, seen above left, but won its fair share of nominations at the BAFTAs for direction, screenplay and cinematography and one Best Supporting Award for Aaron Taylor-Johnson at the Golden Globes. Maybe it is a film appreciated more by Europeans than Americans as it won the Grand Jury Prize at the 2016 Venice International Film Festival.
The film has a startling opening and this gives the viewer some idea of what is to follow. Tom Ford is a stylish director and there are many memorable images. Three stories are skilfully woven together and each has its own style. Susan (Adams), a disillusioned art dealer lives in a glass-cage modernist LA house with her handsome creep husband, Hutton (Armie Hammer). Financially, the couple are faltering; emotionally, they are falling apart. Out of the blue, Susan receives a package, a manuscript from her ex-husband Edward (Jake Gyllenhaal), which promptly gives her a paper cut, significantly drawing blood. A sensitive soul whom Susan apparently abandoned in ‘horrible’ circumstances, Edward used to call his wife a ‘nocturnal animal’. Now that sobriquet has become the title of his as-yet-unpublished novel, which he has dedicated to her: a visceral, anguished tale of brutal assault and ugly revenge in which a family are run off the road by rednecks in rural west Texas, with horrifying results. This story is shown through Susan’s imagination as she reads the manuscript one weekend when her husband is away. The third story is of the romance between Susan and Edward, their marriage and subsequent separation.
Expanding confidently from the chamber piece confines of 2009’s A Single Man, Ford makes an impressive fist of mimicking the mood of Hitchcock, the skewed reality of Lynch, the grit of the Coen brothers, and the obsessive attention to detail of Kubrick. Seamus McGarvey’s widescreen cinematography perfectly captures the contrasting environments of the film’s sinewy, intertwined settings, from the reflective surfaces of Susan’s LA life, to the more human hues of her past with Edward, and the cruel vistas of his own neo-noir narrative.
Click below for reviews and more information.
Venue: William Loveless Hall