Tom Ford may have overburdened his first film, the Christopher Isherwood adaptation A Single Man, with quick-cut impressionistic montages and an overly polished look, but at least some of his attention-grabbing effects could be said to express the inner life of his tortured main character. In his follow-up, Nocturnal Animals, Ford has tamed his previously impulsive, jittery editing rhythms, but he’s ramped up the voluptuous production design: Even a West Texas desert sunrise feels as ravishingly upholstered as Amy Adams’s outfits and upper-class decors. Somewhere, however, the troubled souls of its characters get lost amid all that useless beauty. Disenchanted art-gallery owner Susan (Adams) is ostensibly wracked with guilt over the way her relationship with writer ex-husband Edward (Jake Gyllenhaal) has ended, and Tony Hastings (Gyllenhaal again)—the fictional character Edward has conceived for the novel he dedicates to Susan—is ostensibly wracked with guilt over his failure to protect his wife and daughter from being killed by a trio of white-trash psychos (Aaron Taylor-Johnson, Karl Glusman, and Robert Aramayo). Ford, however, is too busy making it all look sleek and pretty for that anguish to register.
Published as part of Toronto International Film Festival 2016 | Dispatch 2.