Nocturnal Animals 2016
Oy Oy Land. If you can get through the opening credits of very obese naked older women dancing by themselves then you might be ready for the rest of this film. The director fashion designer Tom Ford in his second feature films these sad and grotesque dancers up close and in slow motion and it is painful to watch. It seems unending and confusing. Just what are we watching, Is it a spiky send up of Marina Abramovic’s tacky use of beautiful naked men and women in some of her performance pieces, a carnival sideshow of lost everything or a burlesque act from hell. Well it turns out to be an opening night performance piece at a flashy spiffy art gallery owned by Amy Adams it sets us up nicely for what is to follow. Or does it?
Adams is in a second marriage to Armie Hammond (such a nice looking young man) but is unhappy and dulled by it. They live in a typical L.A. style glass house on the top of the city that is open to the spectacle of lights, action, cameras, but are really closed off from it. The house is filled with your usual blue to light blue chip art, (Is that a Jeff Koons? Is that a Damien Hurst? But Amy does not like being an art dealer and she doesn’t even like the art that she sells for big bucks.
She mopes around the house and the gallery but she’s not really there. She’s glazed and shinny like the art she pushes, and Ford uses Adams one of our most likeable and cuddly movie stars against her grain. She’s removed from her life and this state of sleepwalking she’s in also removes us from her and her life situation.
Ok I admit it I was hooked. What’s not to like it has art, glitz, fashion, L.A. Amy and Armie and Jake Gyllenhaal along with generous side dishes of the grotesque. We really don’t see much of this city, Ford keeps us at a distance from this place of make believe, glamour and shit, and its a good move on his part. The plot starts to move and gets twisty and ugly when Amy gets a surprise manuscript from her first husband an author played by Jake Gyllenhaal (such a nice looking young man) of his novel titled “Nocturnal Animals” which is dedicated to her.
The story within the story starts up and it’s a very nasty tale for sure. Violent, ugly, disturbing and full of sorrow, revenge and death. Amy can only read so much of it at one time and who can blame her as it is clearly based on her marriage to Jake. Fiction mixes with fact as a family of 3, mother, young daughter and father set off on a road trip in deep dark Texas and meet up with the three horsemen of the Apocalypse. That’s all I’m saying about the plot, because I don’t want to spoil it for anyone who will want to see it. The look of the film is sharp and saturated with deep colors and as I said disturbing situations and action overflow. The cast is very good. Michael Shannon (is it my imagination or was he in every film released last year) plays a sheriff with a big problem and was Oscar nominated for it. Laura Linney pops up in a small bit as Amy’s very nasty and bitchy mother, and no one plays bitchy better than Linney. But hey listen this is not a film for everyone, so viewer beware, and don’t blame me for your nightmares or daymares. God knows our reality is nightmarish enough.