Nocturnal Animals ★★½

[5]

I want to like Tom Ford as a director, but this film plays into so many stereotypes of what a fashion designer would bring to the screen. It's utterly empty and at the same time excruciatingly self-serious. It sets its color palette to coordinate with the glossy finish of every inch of the mise-en-scène. It introduces concerns of class and otherness only to dismiss them as white guilt, and to remind us that rednecks really is crazy. Rich people are in charge for a reason. But most frustrating of all, Nocturnal Animals limits its characterizations to clothing, hair, and make-up. We would have known the inbred rednecks were bad, even if they hadn't been violent. Look at their shoes!

As with A Single Man, this kind of superficial filmmaking is not without its pleasures. Michael Shannon in his David Byrne True Stories get-up is a hoot, and I certainly enjoy Amy Adams' severe-intellectual look. (Bless me, Laura Mulvey, for I have sinned...) But as Jen my Better Half pointed out, this felt a lot like the glossy, semi-prestige neo-noirs of the 90s (Red Rock West, The Color of Night, Zandalee, etc.), only Ford and company clearly had no understanding that this material was pulpy as a bag of grapefruit.