Susan Morrow runs a successful art gallery but has an unfulfilling personal life and a marriage destined for destruction. When she receives a novel manuscript from her first husband, Edward, she finds it to be violent and disturbing. As she reads on, she comes to see it as a testament to her own life and past relationships, and perhaps a form of revenge from Edward. As we watch the story within the story, neither tale heads toward a happy ending.
2016, Color, Rated R, 1 Hr 56 mins
DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1, 2.40:1 Aspect Ratio
Starring: Amy Adams, Jake Gyllenhaal, Michael Shannon
Directed by Tom Ford
Sex: Graphic nudity
I admit I’m somewhat old-school when it comes to my perception of art. Perhaps it stems from my background as a musician but when I experience something creative, be it music, movie, or museum; I want to be educated, inspired, or entertained. This film has none of those qualities.
Visually, it’s beautifully shot; though one scene had me scratching my head at its composition. There is an avant-garde look and feel here that some viewers will find appealing. The story however is nothing to get excited about. The box art has a reviewer’s quote on the front that says, “A haunting, twisted thriller!” While I agree with the twisted part, there is nothing haunting or thrilling about it. The story-within-a-story thing has been done many times before. Neither tale contains any surprises or mis-direction. In fact, it’s painful to watch at times as some particularly violent sequences are drawn out far too long. If you’re hoping for salvation at the end, you won’t find it. The final act is completely unfulfilling.
I’m being harsh, I realize. Three stars is for production quality and acting. But as an evening’s entertainment, I recommend you look elsewhere.
Director Tom Ford has chosen a cold color palette with deep blacks and a huge dynamic range. Detail and sharpness are reference-quality but there are many instances of detail crush, seemingly by intent. Despite the blue pallor, some bright colors pop out; Amy Adams ruby-red lipstick is the best example.
The DTS-HD Master Audio mix is the best part of this release. Dialog is clean and crisp with a wide front soundstage and some nice subtleties from the surround channels. The sub gets an occasional nod as well. The musical score is a lush and beautiful collection of string melodies that seems to suggest a more positive feel than the film portrays. Kudos to composer Abel Korzeniowski whose work can also be heard in the re-release of the 1927 film Metropolis, and the TV-series Penny Dreadful.
Bonus features include three shorts entitled, Building the Story, The Look of Nocturnal Animals, and The Filmmaker’s Eye: Tom Ford.