Tom Ford is a master of style. His second outing as a filmmaker, Nocternal Animals, is more aggressive than A Single Man, both in the image and content. Everything is perfectly coiffed and airbrushed to perfection. It would be easy to write Nocternal Animals off as the ultimate film of style over substance, but Ford's style is so aggressive that it becomes a substance unto itself. There is much that can be said about the film's parallel structure of the jilted lover's revenge vs. the father/husband's revenge, but that is almost secondary, the violence of the narrative supporting the violence of the image. The most genius thing about Nocternal Animals is that it is the image itself, not its content, that supplies the violence. It's an assault of the visual senses that is not easily forgotten, both painful beautiful and disturbing because of its beauty. The narrative itself is rather pedestrian, but the image of Nocternal Animals forces you to examine our connection and attraction to the stylish, the pretty and the image.
A misguided, claustrophobic vignette takes away from the power of the story and the performances. With almost the entire film confined to a circular frame, with the action confined to less than half the screen, I Am Not Madame Bovary never seems to get started. The framing device makes for a compelling start, but then takes over everything until more time is spent contemplating the vast amount of negative space on the screen as opposed to the story. Maybe that was what the filmmaker intended, by it seems like a waste of the performers' time and talents.
A slick and engrossing tale of two girls roped into the glamour of the criminal underworld. Divines mostly manages to avoid the cliches of the genre until the end. The rest of the film has a raw freedom the is rare in Western films that aim for more mainstream content anchored in great performances from a strong female cast.
Meandering and slow, The Dreamed Path never manages to ground itself in anything. There is no plot, no emotional arc, just a series of unrelated images and words grasping at a connection that never materializes.