This morning I saw Nocturnal Animals, starring Amy Adams and Jake Gyllenhaal.
Susan (Adams) is an affluent member of the art world, living day-by-day in an unfulfilling marriage to her second husband, Hutton (Armie Hammer). One day, she receives a manuscript from Edward (Gyllenhaal), who she left nearly two decades prior. It wasn't a pleasant break-up.
Home alone with Hutton traveling, Susan becomes riveted by the story spun by her ex, as the characters mirror those in her former life—plus, he dedicated the work to her.
As an audience, we enter the mind of Susan and become engulfed in the plot as she does. And it's a brutal one.
The father in the story (mirroring Edward) is driving his wife (mirroring Susan) and daughter to west Texas late one night. When another car drives aggressively on the highway, Edward tries to lose it, but is unsuccessful. What starts as road rage soon becomes far more sinister and the story becomes one nail-biting scene after another.
Tom Ford's direction is seamless. We only catch our breath when Susan does, as she looks up from the pages to digest what her mind's eye just witnessed.
The scenes within the manuscript with Gyllenhaal and later Michael Shannon, who's the detective assigned to investigate the crime, are heartbreaking, exciting and sometimes even morbidly funny.
I found myself holding my breath, gripping the armrests and having to look away throughout. The tension-build was unimaginable and the payoff horrific, if somewhat predictable.
I can't imagine this will be ignored during awards season; it would be a travesty to deny such an extraordinary ensemble.
I'll be rooting for them every step of the way.