Nocturnal Animals

Director: Tom Ford
Year Released: 2016
Rating: 3.5

Art curator Susan (Amy Adams), living a posh (but unhappy) life with 'businessman' Hutton (Armie Hammer), receives a 'gift' from her ex-husband Edward (Jake Gyllenhaal): a copy of his new novel (dedicated to her) about a writer (also Gyllenhaal) who, along with his wife (Isla Fisher) and daughter, get assaulted by cretins in West Texas ... while fictional in nature, the book ties in with their former life together (and, for him, painful separation). For years I've heard the word "Hitchcockian" applied to so many films, but it took Mr. Ford to actually make a feature truly worthy of that term, crafting an intricate metaphor for the way in which art can be used for revenge (and self-healing): Edward wrote the book as a reflection of his psychic torment (why murder your ex-wife when you can harm her in written form?), and the way in which Adams' character slowly pieces her own past together with the bits in the novel is cathartic (leading to the brilliantly open-ended final scene). Using Fisher as Adams' doppelgänger is a clever casting move ... and this contains (yet another) standout performance by Michael Shannon as a dying Texas lawman. Ford may have spent most of his career designing clothing, but he's a natural behind a motion picture camera.