starring Amy Adams, Jake Gyllenhaal, Michael Shannon, Aaron Taylor-Johnson
screenplay by Tom Ford, based on the novel Tony and Susan, by Austin Wright
directed by Tom Ford
by Walter Chaw It opens with an already-notorious slow-motion consideration of a gallery of morbidly-obese women in tiny cowboy hats, naked and holding sparklers while gyrating to Abel Korzeniowski's moody, derivative score. Not long after, someone will comment how, as an art installation, it's a withering indictment of junk culture, in response to which our ostensible heroine Susan (Amy Adams) intones, "Junk. It's all junk." As self-awareness goes, this is as hollow as the rest of Tom Ford's Nocturnal Animals, a dirge of shallow introspection and sanctified ugliness that is, as it happens, a pretty trenchant critique of the landscape that would normalize a Trump presidency. Consider that the installation isn't "junk" so much as the kind of conversation people of a certain intuition might have about the limitations of media to sell something biology rejects. It's a tentative salvo into the nature/nurture debate and the extent to which popular culture can influence the innate. The answer? It can, a little. More often, it merely gratifies/reflects the base. Calling it "junk" reveals a specific attitude that the only thing obese women are capable of representing is over-consumption and, in the sparklers and hats, a sad sort of patriotism. Tom Ford has a message. I get it. It's gotten away from you. The signifier is greater than the sign.