Ever feel frustrated when you watch a trailer and it basically shows you the whole film? Then Nocturnal Animals might just be the flick for you.
Fashion designer-turned-director Tom Ford could have done just about anything he wanted for his second film after 2009’s critically acclaimed A Single Man.
He chose to do Nocturnal Animals, and it’s not hard to see why.
Having played at only a few film festivals and pre-screenings around the world prior to general release, every piece of promotion for the film has been like a high-end fashion ad.
There are intensive visuals, orotund, convictional declarations and plenty of A-listers staring off into the distance, in this case Amy Adams, Jake Gyllenhaal, Michael Shannon, Aaron Taylor-Johnson, Armie Hammer and Australia’s Isla Fisher.
Refreshingly, what Ford has chosen to let slip about Nocturnal Animals doesn’t tell us much about the film beyond its dramatic overtures and marquee cast.
In fact, the various trailers deliberately throw us off the scent of what to expect from this profoundly shocking thriller.
There’s Adams wandering about her upmarket home, Gyllenhaal showing off the emotional intensity that has marked his most recent performances and the much-admired Shannon as a Texas lawman in a role uniquely attuned to his gruff sensibilities.
Taylor-Johnson is almost unrecognisable in one of the less glamorous roles the once-Count Vronsky in Anna Karenina has taken on, but the less revealed about him, and the rest of the plot, the better.
Ford has elaborated somewhat on the nature of the film in public appearances, including during a recent Q&A at Sydney’s Randwick Ritz Cinema.
“For me the human condition is we have happy moments, we have sad moments, devastating things happen to us and sometimes through those comes transformation,” Ford explained.
“You won’t believe it but I actually found the end of this movie uplifting.
“I guess I’m old-fashioned in that there has to be a moral to the story and this story for me was really about finding more in your life that means something to you.”
The ending, while anti-climactic and strangely inconsistent with the rest of the film, leaves the viewer in no doubt as to its auteur’s intention.
Now able to command top billing with the much-anticipated Arrival launching in Australian cinemas on the same day, Adams’ holds her own against the supremely talented Shannon and Gyllenhaal.
An early scene involving Gyllenhaal and our first glimpse of Taylor-Johnson is about as painstakingly suspenseful and hand-wringing as you will get in modern cinema.
The film is distinctly reminiscent of the work of some of the great masters of suspense including Hitchcock, whose influence Ford acknowledged in the recent Q&A.
All the better for the little you know about it, a thriller like Nocturnal Animals is that much more compelling when you go in dark.
Nocturnal Animals is in cinemas from November 10