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Amy Adams stars as Susan Morrow in Tom Ford’s romantic thriller Nocturnal Animals. (Merrick Morton/Focus Features)
Amy Adams stars as Susan Morrow in Tom Ford’s romantic thriller Nocturnal Animals. (Merrick Morton/Focus Features)

REVIEW

Nocturnal Animals squanders talent on a ridiculous, high-camp mess Add to ...

  • Directed by Tom Ford
  • Written by Tom Ford
  • Starring Amy Adams, Jake Gyllenhaal and Michael Shannon
  • Classification 14A
  • Genre drama
  • Year 2016
  • Country USA
  • Language English

Jake Gyllenhaal and Amy Adams are two of the finest actors working today – of that, there’s little doubt. Tom Ford is a brilliant fashion designer, whose legacy can be felt in all corners of the cultural universe. Again, there’s no argument to be had there.

But when you combine the megawattage of Gyllenhaal and Adams with Ford’s directorial … well, “prowess” would be too strong a word, so let’s go with “vision.” So, when you combine those two actors with Ford’s vision, what you get is a ridiculous, high-camp mess that could easily be mistaken for substance, if it weren’t so irredeemably silly.

Jake Gyllenhaal and Amy Adams talk 'Nocturnal Animals' in Venice (AP Video)

Abandoning whatever restraint Ford displayed in his directorial debut, 2009’s A Single Man, the director decides to unfurl a cartoonish exploration of the social hierarchies that cut the creative world in two. On one end is struggling novelist Tony (Gyllenhaal, doing lots with little), who sends his latest manuscript to ex-wife Susan (Adams), who now occupies the upper stratosphere of L.A. life. And so begins a criss-cross of narratives that pivots on a film within the film that takes place in what a five-year-old must imagine rural Texas might be and what a LACMA patron might conjure New York to be.

You might argue that Ford is being self-deprecating with his portraits of the rich and soulless, but I’m not so sure – the entire endeavour reeks of self-congratulatory wit and a visual style so cold it could freeze the sun. Which, coincidentally, is where this movie should be sent, post-haste.

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