This is a violent, emotional & cleverly made revenge thriller. It is meant to shock. And it does. Gorgeously. The opening shots of the dancing ladies are weired, something you won't forget. The story itself is average, very much as seen before. But how the bits & pieces are put together is good.
3 stars for Michael Shannon's deadpan detective whose fatalistic sense of humor is as dry as the dusty West Texas desert, 2 stars for the gritty Jake Gylenhaal father seeking revenge subplot, 1 star for the cliched Amy Adams relationship subplot which is as hollow as the wealthy characters.
Not sure the two strands of narrative really add up to anything all that conclusive. While it might suggest something about the fragility of the male ego, or the role of art in expressing personal truths, we never learn enough about the characters for this reflection to carry much depth. That said, the performances & direction are superb, with Ford sustaining a suitably chilling atmosphere that is stark & compelling.