Tom Ford is at his second feature, and it couldn’t be any more different from his debut film, “A Single Man”. While the latter was an artsy essay film, with long dreamlike sequences without dialogues and a strong emphasis on visuals and music, “Nocturnal Animals” is raw, down to earth, and with very few distractions.
If I had to describe the film with one adjective it would be “violent”. Violence has an important role, but not the kind it has in a film like Michael Haneke’s “Funny Games”. In Nocturnal Animals, violence is escapable, but only through suffering. Refusing violence can be done, but only brings to even more pain.
Ford’s strength lies in his ability to seamlessly switch between the fiction’s real-life world and that of the novel Edward (Jake Gyllenhaal) has written and sent to his ex-wife (Amy Adams). Taking the theme of the road trip and stripping away any joy from it, the film is a race against the time to escape death, and causes strong feelings of anxiety in the audience. Although the story is a fictional novel read by a fictional character – and is therefore more fictional than traditional film narratives – it feels real, and at times the film is too strong to handle.
In conclusion, Tom Ford has directed another impressive film, going in another direction and portraying a dark, cruel and raw thriller that only shares Ford’s stunning visual style with his debut film “A Single Man”. His directorial skills and sense of aesthetics are confirmed; it’s going to be interesting to see what his future works will be like.