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A letter to Tom Ford, entitled ‘Nocturnal Animals’

Yes we can all see the giant arse in the top left of the picture, happy now?

Yes we can all see the giant arse in the top left of the picture, happy now?

Dear Tom Ford,

I am writing to let you know that it’s okay, everything is going to be okay. I have just watched Nocturnal Animals and I am very concerned. It seems that this is a cry for help. Are you trying to tell your viewers that you are trapped? Are you being held prisoner in a perfect world of fashion and wealth?

If this film is actually a message, it seems to be stating that you are palpably miserable. I wasn’t aware that someone was forcing you against your will to use your Billions to make movies?

Nobody really understands you, do they? It must be so difficult to have such complete control over all aspects of your projects – unlike many other directors – giving you so many choices to make all on your own. So you thought that you would share the burden and make the audience complicit. You opted to begin your movie with grotesque slow-motion imagery of overweight, naked, old majorettes, their limp skin flapping around at speed, incongruous with the profound orchestral piece being played. It is art, you tell us. Is it art to malign those who do not have perfect bodies?

You had similar issues with deciding how to amend the source material behind your movie. I can only assume that you wanted the viewer to ‘enjoy’ what you wanted to leave out (times and dates and a logical narrative) and what you consciously left in and expanded upon (an abortion plotline, bloody head trauma) from Austin Wright’s 1993 book ‘Tony and Susan‘. Nocturnal Animals wants to punish its lead – Susan (Amy Adams) – or as I suspect – your Freudian conduit – by giving her a soulless life of luxury, a cardboard cut-out of a husband (poor Armie Hammer), repeated references to women turning into their Texan mothers and a “sadness behind the eyes.

I’m not entirely sure that you have met any real women, from the multiple portrayals in your films. I was particularly drawn to Andrea Riseborough’s character who you also gave so little to work with. She, the only happily married character because she is married to a gay man, informs us that “everybody’s pain is relative.”

So you are in pain, I see. It is hard to know about everybody’s pain, but I did feel that I better understand rich Caucasian beautiful people’s pain now. it must have been equally painful for you to feel unable to demonstrate inner torment without using violence and brutality when making the film. You could not have made your point (what exactly was your point?) without bloodshed and rape and guns and revenge culture. Your anti-hero Tony (Jake Gyllenhaal) is vilified for not using strength and anger like everybody else in Texas (apparently) until you beat him into submission and make him like everybody else. I hope that this was at least a therapeutic breakthrough for you. Or did you enjoy creating Aaron Taylor-Johnson’s psychopath more? Get a little repressed anger out by showing his disgusting treatment of people? Good for you!

I can see how hard you tried in Nocturnal Animals to paint over the cracks of your fracturing happiness, by dressing and painting your stunning characters, forcing Susan to walk so elegantly in ten inch high heels.

I can offer one piece of advice. Your path to enlightenment may come from garnering self-awareness. You were trying to satirise the industries within which you work, taking the piss out of the art world and fashion and anyone who is super-wealthy and therefore without the common touch…and yet you remain within these worlds, as a central part of them, peddling obscenely expensive fashion and make up and fragrance and now films to the rest of us, begging us to simultaneously envy you and to pity you. And I do pity you.

I am certain that the movie will be a great success, it is handsomely made, with flashes of genius. I hope it gives you the satisfaction that you so desperately crave.

Do let me know how I can help you further. Perhaps I can’t, considering your movie so offended me. But do, please get some help.

Yours faithfully,


P.S. Send my love to Michael Shannon. You might want to hang around with him some more…

For an alternate take on the film, check out the review by Hillary Butler.

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  1. “Riseborough’s character…the only happily married character because she is married to a gay man”

    You hit upon a perfectly sly point Ford made, about the enormous subtext in this “morality tale”. Subtle changes and meta-details (relative to its makers) give this adaptation a specific purpose based on a (further hidden) reference narrative.

    The novel is an allegory of the emotional violence between two exes, to reflect on (through expressing vs. interpreting) who did what to whom in their breakup. It’s an intimate violence (of betrayal, abandonment) between two people. How they see each other is informed by social trappings of what an ideal mate should be, how that fits into an ideal life one should pursue.
    (How does the hidden subtext apply? Think of the possible clues to the demise of a relationship, can only be found in a work of fiction – made into a movie consumed by the public. Why is this “coding” necessary?)

    “Envy, pity…” it’s important to note depicting something meticulously onscreen doesn’t mean endorsing it.

    • Hey Katz – I love your message, thank you for it. I think what you’ve said is fair, although he laid on the ‘trappings’ with a trowel worthy of The Help.

      However, I disagree with your last point and my disagreement is the basis for my (albeit tongue-in-cheek) review. Tom Ford is not Sasha Baron Cohen and eviscerating his entire industry while simultaneously selling perfume for £150 a bottle fills me with discomfort. Between him and Leo Di Caprio I am disappointed and demand better from my filmmakers, which may well be naive!

  2. My name is mark from san antonio tx from the i just want to say this movie pissed me off and tom ford shouldve let edward show some more revenge than being more weak in the movie those three scum bags did more damage smh sorry to anyone who gets mad at this messsge.

    • Hi Mark. I think you’re freely entitled to your opinion, I am not mad at all, but the smarter thing to do is to put someone in prison, not blow their brains out. I’m not one for eye-for-an-eye because if we all did that then we’d never learn to be better less-mean people. He wasn’t weak to me, he just wasn’t violent, not everybody is and I’m glad. Did you like the film other than that?

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