Writer and Director Tom Ford gives us the strangest opening
sequence ever: obese
ladies dancing naked in an art gallery opening, while formally-dressed
patrons try to pretend it's avant-garde?
Well, if Mr. Ford wanted to set a mood that would leave the
viewer somewhat shocked and on edge, then he succeeded.
The art gallery is the place of employment for the main
character, Susan Morrow (Amy Adams), who seems to have it all:
an important executive job with the gallery, a handsome
husband, a fabulous house. But
there's definitely unhappiness simmering under the surface.
Her husband Hutton (Armie Hammer) is the one she left her first
husband for----Edward (Jake Gyllenhaal), who's the sweet and sensitive
type, an aspiring writer. But
Susan was too restless and ambitious to be content with his commercial
failures. Her Mother
(Laura Linney) had warned her that this would happen, but Susan just
did not want to believe at the time that she would turn out exactly
like her: materialistic,
arrogant, selfish, and emotionally distant, except with those she
wants to impress. And now
that she's living in “the big house,” and her husband is out
traveling (again), she finds herself thinking about Edward (it's the
Eagles who sang about “every point of refuge has its price”).
And now Edward has sent her a manuscript, which is dedicated to
her. Susan begins reading
with great interest. But
it's not a sweet bedtime story. It's
a chilling, horrific tale of a couple on vacation with their teenaged
daughter, which goes horribly wrong when they encounter three ex-cons
on a lonely road at night.
Now the movie takes a left turn and spends most of the rest of
its emotional energy telling the gruesome tale of Edward's novel.
Tony Hastings (also played by Gyllenhaal) and his wife Laura (Isla
Fisher) are traveling by car on a vacation, with their teenage
daughter India (Ellie Bamber) in the back seat, complaining about
being so out in the boonies that she isn't even getting a signal for
her cell phone. And that's
the exact place the thugs show up:
first blockading the road and not letting them pass, then
running the Hastings' car off the road.
After a pretense of trying to fix their flat tire, the creepy
hoodlums kidnap the Mom and daughter, and leave the Dad abandoned down
a deserted dirt road. Tony
survives the ordeal, and finally gets help, but despite a lot of
fingerprinting, there's just not enough hard evidence.
And Tony, being completely distraught, makes for an unreliable
Now it's a revenge tale. The
local gendarme, Bobby Andes (Michael Shannon), is as disappointed in
the DA's decision not to prosecute as Tony is.
Bobby smokes like a chimney, and doesn't appear to be in great
health. In fact, he's got
lung cancer, and has less than a year to live.
He's already been summarily demoted at work, and he has no
family, so now he's got nothing at all to lose.
He wants these bad hombres brought to justice, and he wants to
know if Tony is “all in” on this.
Well, wouldn't you be?
So now back to our original scenario:
what does this have to do with our art gallery afficianado?
Is there something here about grisly murder and cold revenge
and casual indifference that we don't know about?
Just maybe. Now, if
we can only make sense of the obese naked dancing ladies....