C California Style

Director-writer TOM FORD with cinematographer SEAMUS McGARVEY on set of their film NOCTURNAL ANIMALS. PHOTO: Merrick Morton/Focus Features.
A still from Nocturnal Animals of Susan Morrow (Amy Adams). PHOTO: Merrick Morton/Focus Features.
Jake Gyllenhaal who takes on dual roles in the film. PHOTO: Merrick Morton/Focus Features.

In Focus

by C California Style

Tom Ford returns to the director’s chair for Nocturnal Animals, a film whose looks may deceive.

Closure. That universal yearning is unwrapped, unpacked, combed through and rewound in Tom Ford’s stark November film Nocturnal Animals. The multi-talented writer-director (and designer and visual artist) interprets the idiosyncratic novel Tony and Susan (itself an unusual tale: published in the ’90s, then re-released in the U.K. to great acclaim and now being revived for the U.S.) with a sharp cast including Amy Adams, Jake Gyllenhaal, Armie Hammer, Laura Linney and Aaron Taylor-Johnson. Stylish (but of course) and drenched in sepia hues, the film’s visuals are also designed to provide substance.

“I think a movie should play silently and that words and language should be used only when necessary to move the narrative along,” Ford says. The story follows Susan Morrow (Adams), whose dull but privileged life in Los Angeles with her frequently traveling second husband (Hammer) turns upside down after her ex-husband (Gyllenhaal) sends her a manuscript of his haunting novel, dedicated to her. As Adams reads through the violent thriller about a mild-mannered husband whose family trip in West Texas takes a dark turn, she’s forced to reflect on her past. Deftly, Ford plays with the way a work of art can toy with a reader, and the journey is as internal as it is external. Viewers, too, will be in its clutches. 

Written and edited by Elizabeth Khuri Chandler.