There are many films I want to talk about in this section and I didn’t know which one to choose after writing about my most recent favorite horror movie, Prevenge. Today I have no doubts anymore now that I’ve watched the stunning Nocturnal Animals, the new jewel signed by Tom Ford who’s definitely as esthete as relevant. Blown away by the refinement of his first film A Single Man (2009), I confess that I was expecting something less powerful. But with Jake Gyllenhaal, Amy Adams and Michael Shannon at the cast, these two hours of cinema could, obviously, only be promising.
I fully use the word “cinema” : when faced with the images of Nocturnal Animals, there’s no desire to grab some popcorn (which however I like so much), all our attention is caught, hypnotized by the the delicacy of the dialogues, the ambient eroticism, the excellence of the image in which an emotion arises in a shudder of lashes, a sigh, at the corners of the lips. This is what Tom Ford’s cinema looks like: the art of melting photo and cinema, beauty and violence, death and sensuality, a real work of goldsmith. (Here is an harmony that I usually find in Korean movies and rarely in American movies.) Unlike A Single Man, Nocturnal Animals even takes the risk of playing in dirt, varying rhythms and dimensions.
At the same time immobile and bogged down in a cold, perfect and despicable Los Angeles, we wander through a fictitious road trip that turns badly, like a guiding thread in the dust of the desert of Texas, and we escape by flashbacks in places of a carefree past, of an innocence that is definitely lost.
Do not get me wrong, it’s neither a lovely romance, nor a long erotic complacent music video. Yes, there’s some love and desire, a lot, but these ones are fragmented in time and space, crushed by a system, annihilated by the sum of choices where one prefers to flee, to renounce, and to throw away what is sometimes precious, fragile, vital.
It’s a film about solitude, desperation.
Tom Ford juggles with some images of a frightening beauty , and ugliness, and grotesque. Nothing is left to chance. Subtle dialogues and looks, silences, unsaid … the actors take us with them at each breaths, and sometimes the air runs out. We feel dizzy just like Suzan (played by Amy Adams) who can’t sleep. She’s here but she’s somewhere else, like a ghost in her fragile beauty, fabulously well dressed and made up, so rich and brilliant … fabulously alone. There is a Black Mirrors atmosphere in the scenes taking place in Los Angeles, with all its cynicism, darkness, its squeaky humor and lucidity. And most of all, there’s a lot of sadness.
Sometimes the rhythm of the film forces us to experiment some scenes that may seem long, too long, imposing on us a heavy feeling of frustration and helplepness. We find ourselves destitute in front of madness, of the lightness of a violence that improvises and doesn’t control itself, carried by boredom, cruelty, despair. A little taste of A Clockwork Orange and Mad Max, then the vertigo takes us as in the Hitchcock movie (Vertigo) whose influence betrays here both through the will of keeping a balance between a mastered classical beauty and a continuous tension.
The music is an other central figure which holds a major place in this painting. The lamentations of the violins that could have been unbearable (I’m quite allergic to the: “warning! Here is coming a scene of emotion, do you get the tremolos?”) contribute here to the aesthetics of the film, to its nagging pace. Hearing the first notes I immediately think of Penny Dreadful soundtrack (a pretty great reference in terms of “Victorian horror” and which I highly recommend.); After checking, I realize that the composer, Abel Korzeniowski, is indeed the one of the series, that’s an other positive point.
I’ll tell you nothing else about the plot of this film but I guess I managed to deliver the message: I’m totally seduced by Nocturnal Animals. I have no doubt that some people will perceive this movie differently; a film no longer belongs to its director, editor etc from the moment that it is shown to the public. It belongs to all and everyone will see and feel a story connected to its own experience. There are as many opinions and feelings as there are perceptions and people.
For my part I found in this movie all the absurdity and emptiness that I could see in Los Angeles. In the same register I highly recommend Maps To The Stars by David Cronenberg with the excellent Julianne Moore, who has the main female role in….A single Man. Happy to have shared my feelings with you through this post, I hope that you’ll watch this film . And that you will also be touched.
See you soon for another #PopCornSession!