A moment of thanks and appreciation for the fact that Tom Ford has once again taken a break from being a world-renowned fashion designer to write and direct yet another stunning film.
No, not just stunning, awe-inspiring that gets all the more better when you think about it. It makes you wish there was a seven wonders in film, because it deserves to sit among the greats.
To begin with, as would be expected of the former Creative Director of Gucci, visually the film is a work of art; sharp, clean, beautiful and just out of our reach. It functions both as a reflection of the modern art world in which our protagonist Susan (Amy Adams) lives, as well as a projection of her personal image. To impress us that’s all he would need to do, but Ford delivers so much more through the complexity in which he rounds out his characters, as he uses emotion to subtly connect narratives of past, present and fictional in the world’s diegesis.
Ford does well to diminish the pretentiousness of the film through Susan’s cynicism towards art and life in general, as we repeatedly hear her say she’s “a realist”. Ford teeters a line here in a way that speaks volumes for his creative maturity. This is not the kind of Hollywood love story that would invoke an eyeroll in Susan; there is no happy ending. But does this make the film any more realistic? No, but it is a reflection of how such narratives in Hollywood of true love and finding your soulmate can disenchant and distract us from our own lives. We find ourselves jumping from person to person, following your thoughts instead of your emotions, wondering if this is it, but losing the emotional connection in your own distraction instead.
Susan is sympathetic in that sense. Yet, she is villainised by her ex-husband, Edward (Jake Gyllenhaal), for it. We witness juxtaposed images of their past relationship, her current one and visualised enactments of his manuscript as she reads it.
There’s hints of romanticisation as she begins to read; he sent it to her after years of not speaking and she finds that the book has been dedicated to her. She begins to have feelings of longing and regret, slowly remembering their relationship through rose-tinted glasses. The flashbacks are well balanced in that you can understand the frustrations of both partners, one feeling unsupported, the other feeling exhausted in trying to support what seems like a lost dream.
The novel turns into an obsessive tragic noir piece, and it becomes obvious his feelings towards her are extremely volatile, and the dedication is one of bitterness and spite.
The rose-tint dissapates much more suddenly for us, than it does for her.
Nocturnal Animals is a masterclass in exploring the nature of toxic and imbalanced relationships. Though the film certainly isn’t lacking in dramatisation, it hits notes of realism and relatability that affect you to your core.
Admirably navigated in its structure with brilliant but understated (for the most part) performances across the board; expect to hear from me if it gets the Oscar snub.