It appears that Tom Ford's sophomore film is controversial - with people either in love with it or damning it as dull and potentially misogynistic. My view is that it's neither excellent nor terrible, but something far more unforgivable - boring.
Amy Adams stars as Susan - a bored rich Los Angeles art gallery owner who is growing cynical about her perfect life and the pretentious art she surrounds herself with. Abandoned by her philandering fraudulent husband (Armie Hammer - barely used), she starts reading a manuscript of a novel her ex-husband (Jake Gyllenhaal) has written. She basically left him because he was a romantic loser, and the novel he writes is essentially about an emasculated man who fails to protect his wife (Isla Fisher) and child from some violent slack-jawed yokels (Aaron Taylor-Johnson included). I suspect that the point of this B-grade revenge plot is to prove that in life as in fiction, the husband was basically weak, but kind of over-came it, depending on what you make of the ending.
At any rate, I found myself looking at my watch a lot during this film. Everything was a cliche. The bored rich housewife who dumped her arty boyfriend and regrets it is utterly banal. The evil greedy capitalist bastard new husband. The entire caricature of West Texan peasants as basically malevolent drunkards. But I was particularly disappointed at the casual, quick way in which the "brutal" act Susan commits when she leaves her first husband is treated. And even more disappointed in the fact that Ford didn't take more chances in merging her fictional and real life. There's a flash of something Lynchian around half way through the film, but Ford doesn't follow through with a truly nightmarish living fictional blur that might have echoed Polanski at his most paranoid.
Altogether, this is a desperately disappointing film. I didn't care about any of the characters. I wasn't swept up in any of the photography or design. Even Amy Adams clothes were underwhelming. This isn't the clever, slippery, psychologically fraught tale I was expecting. Or just a plain old-fashioned gruesome B-movie. Move along - there's nothing to see here.
NOCTURNAL ANIMALS has a running time of 116 minutes and is rated R. The movie played Vence, Toronto and London 2016. It will be released in the UK on November 4th, in Greece on November 10th, in Italy and Portugal on November 17th, in the USA on November 18th, in Canada on November 25th, in Russia and Turkey on December 8th, in Germany on December 22nd and in Estonia on January 27th 2017.
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