A strange second film from writer-director Tom Ford, whose astonishingly accomplished debut, A Single Man, may have been small in scope but carried vast emotional resonance. Nocturnal Animals is almost the opposite. Based on a novel by Austin Wright, this stars Amy Adams as an unhappily married art dealer who receives a manuscript in the mail from her novelist ex-husband. Reading it launches her (and us) into imagined dramatizations of the novel’s narrative, as well as flashbacks to her first marriage. (Jake Gyllenhaal plays both the ex-husband and a character in the novel-within-the-movie.) Ford makes numerous visual and thematic connections between Adams and Gyllenhaal—including a number of elegant match cuts—yet the movie can’t quite bridge the emotional gap. Jumping among various competing narratives as it does, Nocturnal Animals has no compelling center. It doesn’t help that Adams’ character is supposed to be devastated by the story she is reading, when its women-in-peril narrative mostly plays like exploitative schlock. Is there a connection here to the many avant-garde art pieces we see via Adams’ gallery, including a provocative opening strip sequence involving women whose bodies look quite differently than those we normally see in the movies? It would take someone who was more fully engaged by Nocturnal Animals to say.