After watching Mark Kermode’s review last week, I decided I was going to go see ‘Nocturnal Animals’ a production by Smoke House Pictures (part owned by George Clooney). Some of the reasons being, I absolutely adore Tom Ford, not just for his fashion and artistic brilliance but also the prolific excellence at his ‘shot’ in making movies. His debut production ‘A Single Man’ was one of the finest movies I had seen in cinema in 2009.
My initial thoughts was to see NA at the Electric Cinema in Notting Hill which is where I go, when I anticipate an orgasmic movie reaction led by intuitional inclined reviews. The one exception recently, was Jennifer Lawrence’s ‘Joy’.
But timings weren’t great last week…
So I resorted to see it on Thursday at the Vue cinema, with my brother whom I happened to see ‘A Single Man’ with at our local ‘Picture House’ in 2009.
So you see? I am a Tom Ford sucker! Perfumes, sun glasses, make up and movies!!!
Nocturnal Animals started with a graphic nudist artistic twist (middle aged obese Caucasian women bizarrely dancing, nude) which caused me to question what exactly the theme of the movie was about.
Mr Ford’s attempt at outlining what seemed like an allegory of a novel with a character who plays a dual lead role both in the movie and the book was sheer fucking brilliance.
Based on Austin Wright’s novel ‘Tony and Susan’, my interpretation of its dynamic content is – a movie based on a true life novel, (by Austin Wright) based on another novel (by Tony Hastings) which reflects a metaphor/ apologue of the plot. Tom Ford brings a 23 year old novel back to life.
Middle class, gallery owner, Susan (Amy Adams) receives a parcel from Edward Sheffield (Jake Gyllenhaal), her ex-husband of 19 years ago accompanied by a letter which she asks her butler to read out to her. There is an invitation to dinner in LA and a manuscript of the novel he’d always wanted to write – a sun-curdled, Texas-set Lone Star noir called Nocturnal Animals, (a pet name which Ed called her when they were married).
Susan takes the book to bed for the weekend while husband Walker (Armie Hammer) is attending to ‘urgent business’ in New York but involved in an extra-marital affair. Susan doesn’t seem surprised at hearing the concierge ask a lady in the lift a question when interrogating her husband on his choice of rooms in the hotel.
Afterall, ‘he was dashing and handsome’ – her way of describing him to her colleague at the gallery.
In her expensive and very modern ‘top to floor’ glass house, the sense of loneliness hits hard as she lies on her couch by the fire place to dissect this novel of her ex husband.
Ford flips from scene to scene, a combination of the plot and the book taking spectators through the journey of the book, Nocturnal Animals and the movie, Nocturnal Animals.
Upon reading the first chapter and getting a sense of what the book was about, she rings her daughter, to find some form of solace. Ford depicts a young woman sleeping on her side by a man, naked with what seemed like a ‘great figure’. They have a short conversation with an assurance that they loved each other. Ford tell us Susan must have had a daughter from her present marriage.
Ford knows that having us sympathise with his heroine is a big ask: “What right do I have to be unhappy?”, Susan quizzes a friend at a house party. “Well, it’s all relative,” she responds with a shrug, though in fact it’s all relatives, plural – and as she scans the pages of her ex-husband’s intensely autobiographical novel, choice morsels of Susan’s familial troubles swish past as if on silver trays you can’t help nibbling from: a little scoop of domineering mother here (Laura Linney, socking her single scene right through the back wall of the cinema), a soupçon of marital betrayal there.
The book begins with Tony, his wife and daughter embarking on a road trip via Texas and encounter 3 troublemakers (Ray the (alpha male, Lou and Turk) who race them out to the side of the road. They assault Tony and both Ray and Turk drive off away with his wife and daughter in Tony’s car, leaving Tony with Lou, in the trio’s car to drive into the night whilst getting abandoned in the middle of nowhere.
Tony evades the risk of being killed and seeks refuge in a farmhouse but is filled with guilt and ultimately learns from Detective Andes, assigned to his case, that his wife and daughter were violently murdered and raped – after found dead in the woods.
A year later, Detective Andes traces Lou and subsequently links him to Ray. We learn Turk is dead.
Detective Andes is diagnosed with lung cancer and is unable to stop smoking. He eludes to Tony that he will be forced to retire given his current circumstances but was willing to help him revenge the death of his family- at least in an unconventional way to see that justice is served. Andes eludes to the corruption in the Force and explains he essentially has nothing to lose.
Ray and Lou are arrested and taken to a derelict cabin where its believed his wife and daughter were raped and murdered.
Lou and Ray attempt an escape during an encounter with Tony but Detective Andes shoots Lou and kills him. Ray escapes. Detective Andes and Tony split ways to find Ray with an aim to kill him, both out with guns.
Ford emphasizes on the concept of poetic justice with the lead character Tony, taking on the responsibility of being the hero which I found very flattering and somewhat highly representative of literature and film.
Tony finds Ray in an abandoned cabin in the woods, where they get into an encounter narrating the events of his wife and daughter’s murder and Ray is outlining details of how he had raped Tony’s wife.
Ray calls Tony ‘weak’.
A term which Susan’s bourgeois mother had used to describe him before they got married. A word Susan had also eluded to when they broke up and she left him for Walker, after aborting his baby secretly.
Ford makes me believe that maybe indeed as ever so eloquently put by Susan’s mum, Anne Sutton – ‘we end up becoming our mothers’ is a true analogy to trait and genetic make-up.
The idea of calling a man ‘weak’ is what I perceived had changed the script of Tony being a ‘good man’ in the words of Detective Andes to one capable of cold murder and revenge.
Ed shoots at Ray after where Ray had hit Ed hard with a metal rod object on the left side of Ed’s face leaving him unconscious and partially blind. Ray is dead and Ed manages to wake from a coma,half blind, staggering towards an exit, and mistakenly shoots himself and dies.
Susan is gutted by the events of the book and writes an email to Edward suggesting they meet up. Edward responds asking Susan to suggest a place and a time. Susan dolls up, arrives at a posh restaurant and waits for Edward. Edward never turned up.
The movie ends…
Flashes of a painting in Susan’s gallery called ‘Revenge’ comes to mind when she asks her PA, how the paining got to the gallery. Seems to me like another allegory to her life with Edward.
Oscar-worthy? Certainly! Possible nominations? Yes!
Aaron Taylor-Johnson (the fine English actor) for best supporting actor because he woke the tragic passion from the screen to our hearts. His contribution to this piece of art was indeed dark! Oscar and Golden Globe wins, me thinks.
Jake Gyllenhaal, best lead actor for Tony Hastings, not for Edward Sheffield!
Potential nominations for best screenplay and best director, best film to Tom Ford.
Hats off to the fashion icon…
I absolutely adore Tom Ford but you nocturnal animals need to head off to the cinema to see this one…
Signed: A nocturnal animal – 00:35am, 22.11.16
Referenced from : The Telegraph Photograph: Indie Wire