Wild Animals (Movie Thoughts: Nocturnal Animals)

imagesI have fond admiration for a lot of Tom Ford’s work: his designs in fashion aren’t a;ways for me, but there’s no doubt they are all beautiful. His perfumes, aesthetic-wise, all match mine, or what I aspire for, since I cannot afford all of them. And he’s a fellow Virgo, so in my head we are kindred spirits. I of course have been wanting to see ‘Nocturnal Animals,’ his latest directorial effort after ‘A Single Man’ from 2009.

‘Nocturnal Animals’ is two films in one – two stylish films with every frame art-directed to death, and they show two opposing landscapes. One is modern, glass steel art galleries and Amy Adams in high heels and hair blown straight Brasilian style. The other is set in a rural landscape somewhere in Texas, the film imagined from the fictional book Adams’ ex-husband has written and has dedicated to her. If these were Tom Ford perfumes, one would be Black Orchid, the other one would be Oud Wood. They are two disparate stories as well, but they kind of intertwine, and they kind of have parallel trajectories. Adam’s work here is pure style and learned acting – it looks and sounds like a major thesis presentation for film school, and I am sure that’s how Ford intended it to be. Jake Gylenhaal gives a blistering performance in his much darker story, and if I were deciding these things, he would surely get a spot for one of the Best performances of the year. It’s quite a feat to still appear natural even if everything around you seems artificial.

I’m probably making it sound like I did not enjoy the movie.  On the contrary, I did. It’s fascinating to look at – every frame is a beaut – and the story is absorbing, If for anything, there are at times too much going on visually that you don’t know where to look. And there’s obviously an attempt to make art, and I think that alone makes it artistic. There are now a lot of articles over the internet about its two endings – of what they mean not only to the film but also the message that Tom Ford wants to convey. You can ignore all that and still enjoy thsi film for what it is – just don’t think too hard.

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