In an age where we blow through movies and television shows like Tic Tacs, it’s hard to find a storyline and characters that stay with you long after the cinema lights have reappeared.
But that’s exactly what Nocturnal Animals, the new psychological thriller from director/writer Tom Ford, does.
I experienced the film a month before it was released in cinemas, at a special preview event that featured a Q&A with Mr Ford himself after the movie had wrapped.
Which was a good thing, because he had a lot to answer for.
At this time, the movie itself wasn’t really on anybody’s radar. It didn’t fall into the highly anticipated blockbuster catagory, nor was there talk of it edging into the early Oscars race.
As the audience filed into the cinema there was a heady sense of excitement in the air, with many of us clutching our third glass of complimentary champagne. But once the movie kicked into action this cheerful atmosphere was quickly replaced with a stifling sense of anxiety and despair.
Nocturnal Animals is partially in the glittering world of Los Angeles and opens on Susan (Amy Adams), an unhappily married and successful gallery owner who receives a manuscript penned by her first husband, even though she has not seen him for years and the relationship ended in a blur of pain and betrayal.
When she settles down to read the manuscript, called Nocturnal Animals, the audience is transported into the book alongside her and scene quickly flips from an imposing concrete LA mansion to the dark back-roads of Texas.
Tony (Jake Gyllenhaal, who has a dual role in the film) is on a late night road trip with his wife and young daughter when they are run off the road by a group of men.
What follows is a tense, suffocating standoff that sucked all the air out of the cinema.
It wasn't the violence played out on screen — we see far worse on free-to-air TV — or the threat of sexual violence, a plot device that is pulled out frequently to push a story forward.
In this case, it was the pure hopelessness of the desperate situation that had us all clutching the cinema chairs and praying for the scene to end.
This moment itself is long and often claustrophobic. We watch as Tony's wife Laura (played to terrified perfection by Isla Fisher) and the family face off against these men, and at this time you almost want the movie to cross over from psychological thriller to violent, over-the-top slasher fare.