5 out of 5 stars (for me)
So I had the gnawing feeling to go see the movie "Nocturnal Animals" Tom Ford is, in my humbled opinion, one of the best directors/movies makers in the business. There is a reason it took him 7 years to go from "A Single Man" to this particular movie and that word is brilliance. He doesn't rush things and takes his time with everything. That is exactly what he did in the making of this movie.
The movie is based off the book "Tony & Susan". The book was released in 1993 and was turned down by 11 publishers and eventually picked up by the 12th called Baskerville publishers. (12 is a significant number in my life so it coincides nicely with this story).
The movie seems to follow the book pretty closely except for some tangents to make the story possibly much more watchable (dramatic effect). As with all Tom Ford Movies, he draws you in with the grotesque and the beautiful coexisting in a space we know as life. The credits begin with art itself, women, dancing completely naked enjoying themselves, even though they are morbidly obese and what many would not label as beautiful, the way they move and the fact that they are so happy in what they are doing makes them works of beauty in themselves. The opening scene shows Susan Morrow(played by Amy Adams) at the opening of an art exhibit at her gallery. There is sheer contrast in that there is beautiful people and beautiful spaces now imbued with the same women that were dancing in opening credits.
The next scene shows Susan driving home and someone following close behind, could be her husband, a lover, or the house maid, in truth it is vague. Evening fades to morning and the day begins in full swing. Susan is greeted by her attendant and asked if she needs anything, and she advises that she is fine and that the staff should take the weekend off. Her assistant lets her know that she has a gift. As an ominous fortelling, when she tries to open the package, she papercuts her finger. There is a pause and you briefly see the blood. She finds out the book is from her ex husband and it is titled "Nocturnal Animals"
Enter Susans now husband who begins conversation with her. From first words, you can tell the relationship is strained. It is a lackluster conversation and she tells him about the book from her ex of which she hasn't heard of for 20 years. She tries to convince her new husband (played by Armie Hammer) that they should go away to the beach for the weekend. You can tell it is an attempt to reconnect, however, it sadly fails when he advises her that he has to go back to New York.
While away, Susan calls her husband Walker in New York to act as if everything is good. He enters elevator and advises that he didn't ccall because its 4am and he didn't want to wake her. She says that he knows she doesn't sleep. The cat is let out of the bag when he announces that he wasn't able to get the normal room and that he has to stay at the 31st floor. The hotel elevator operator slips and says "31st floor ma'aam" and at that point, Amy Adams realizes she is the "other woman"
Susan begins to read the book and it is a marvelously told story about a math professor who decides to take his wife and daughter to maine while driving through the night. While driving, the family is acosted and run off the road by some psychopaths. The story begins to unfold about the gruesome murder of the family and the husbands desire to find and redeem himself through the killers.
Because Tom Fords movies are so incredible, and visually beautiful and masterfully told stories, I will not give anymore of the story away. I will say that through visuals and a story line almost identical to my own life, I found myself sobbing in tears being able to relate exactly to what was going on within the movie, not just a little bit, but 100%. The last 1/4 of the film had me sobbing in tears and when the final scene closed, I applauded.
For the first time in my life, I felt as if my story was told, in its entirety, through the film. Tom Ford has officially become one of my favorite directors and humans and I hope someday I can meet him and tell him what a profound impact his rendition of the book had on my life. I finally felt redemption after 17 years, dealing with my own demons about divorce, through a story that needed to be told as well as appreciated on the big screen. I left the theatre with a different view point...a gratefulness that my story had finally been told. As a writer myself, it was the perfect blend of visual accuity and distinct storytelling.
I will purchase this film when it comes out and even if you can't relate to divorce, go see this movie for the visual beauty.
Until next time...