In the Dark

Marvelous Exhibitions

Nocturnal Animals
Produced by Fade to Black Productions 
Directed and written by Tom Ford, 
based on Austin Wright’s novel Tony and Susan 
Distributed by Focus Features 

Doctor Strange
Produced by Marvel and Disney Studios 
Directed and written by Scott Derrickson 
Distributed by Walt Disney Studios 

Erstwhile fashion designer turned film director Tom Ford seems to have meant his second film, Nocturnal Animals, to be, as Winston Churchill said of Russia, “a riddle, wrapped in a mystery, inside an enigma.”  If I’m right about Ford’s intention to mystify, then I have to say he hasn’t fully succeeded.  His riddle is far too decipherable, and his film is, as the psychiatrists say, overdetermined.  Nearly every shot is accompanied by a signpost announcing his purpose, which aligns with Oscar Wilde’s in “The Decay of Lying.”  “Life imitates Art,” Wilde informs his readers, “far more than Art imitates Life.”  Wilde’s unspoken corollary is that we can’t see reality clearly until we perceive it through the agency of art.

Ford indelicately hammers home this aperçu by equipping his film with two distinct narratives that proceed in counterpoint. ...

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