Tom Ford’s follow-up to his writing and directing debut A Single Man (2009) is a bitter pill of a movie about a saturnine Los Angeles art gallery owner (Amy Adams) who receives a novel manuscript written by her estranged ex-husband (Jake Gyllenhaal) that serves as a violent metaphor for the end of their relationship. Combining elements of Hitchcockian noir, Sirkian melodrama, and Coen-esque neo-western, the film dovetails three story lines: the present, slate-toned to match Adams’s sooty makeup; the past, told through a series of warmly lit flashbacks; and the novel, a thriller-tragedy set in the badlands of west Texas. Ford and ace cinematographer Seamus McGarvey strikingly render each thread, but the transitions can be awkward (Adams’s character takes a shower at the same time that Gyllenhaal’s takes a bath, etc). Ultimately the drama, adapted from a 1993 book by Austin Wright, constitutes a loose assemblage of ideas about romantic betrayal, selfishness, and regret. With Michael Shannon and Laura Linney.
R • 1 hour 56 min • 2016