We may not have to wait to get our hands on Tom Ford’s latest collection — the decadent designs were available immediately following his splashy show at New York Fashion Week — but he certainly made us wait long enough for a follow-up to A Single Man, his acclaimed directorial debut from 2009. It seems that the wait was worthwhile.
With Nocturnal Animals, which screened at the Toronto International Film Festival this week, the designer-cum-director solidifies his singular directorial vision, with each frame meticulously aestheticized and surreal flashbacks and daydreams par for the course. For all the style, however, substance is not sacrificed. Adapted from Austin Wright’s 1993 novel Tony and Susan, the film weaves together two unsettling narratives to paint a haunting portrait of a middle-aged woman in turmoil.
That woman, Susan, is a gallery owner played by Amy Adams, who finds herself wrapped up in a novel, written by her ex-husband, which appears to be a chilling metaphor for the dissolution of their marriage. As we bounce between Susan’s past, present and even the depths of her imagination, she gradually becomes undone. It’s a complex, demanding role, and Ford, despite his exacting methods, leaves it in the capable hands of his star.
“[Tom] has this attention to detail that is, as of course we all know, very meticulous and exquisite, but he was able to take that attention to detail, execute that and let us play in this very amazing world he created,” Adams says. Juxtaposed against Ford’s impossibly beautiful universe, Adams’s raw performance is even more enthralling. “It was fun to get to create this vulnerable, emotional person within this veneer of perfection.”