Nocturnal Animals (2016) is the second film directed by Tom Ford, as beautiful as it is absurd, because it unfolds in two planes at once and tells the story of the relationship between the owner of the art gallery Susan Morrow and her ex-husband, writer Edward Sheffield.
As we have already said, the plot of the film is divided into two full-fledged parts (stories), the structure of which can be described as a classic “story in history”, and therefore has two endings, the meaning and meaning of which we will talk about below.
Explanation of the plot of Nocturnal Animals
The plot of the film tells the story of the owner of the art gallery Susan Morrow, a former artist who, not without the participation of her cruel mother, leaves her husband, the writer Edward, for the wealthy Hatton Morrow.
In the end, this decision turns out to be rash. Hatton goes bankrupt, and Edward sends her his novel Nocturnal Animals, the plot of which is centered around the family of Tony Hastings and the tragedy that happened to him during a night trip to Texas. Susan is impressed by the book, and although we will never see a single line of her throughout the film, we will still be impressed along with the heroine Adams, but why?
The meaning of the film Nocturnal Animals
At first glance, Under Cover of Night is a classic twisted thriller; a cruel allegory for the worst that can be in a person.
Despite Susan’s ostentatious success, a completely filled but eccentric nude exhibition, she is very unhappy. The husband is practicing infidelity, the robot in the gallery does not bring any pleasure, the paintings are disgusting; the real world seems absurd.
Immersion in a beautifully written book further enhances the feeling of emptiness and pretense. Susan realizes how far her current reality has diverged from her own teenage dreams. She even sends an email to Edward saying that the book “touched her deeply” by signing the email “Love, Susan.”
The structure Nocturnal Animals based on the skillful alternation of reality and fiction (novel), past and present, opens up before us a completely unique story, the two parts of which not only complement, but also overlap with each other.
The plot of Edward’s book tells about the tragedy of Tony Hastings. During an overnight trip to Texas, his wife and daughter are kidnapped, raped, and killed by three bandits. Tony blames himself for everything that happened, tracks down the killers and dies, taking revenge for his family.
The story described in Edward’s manuscript is exactly what he felt after Susan left. This is revenge for an act that took away from him the opportunity to be with his beloved woman, have children with her and develop as a writer, because Susan has repeatedly hinted to Edward that he is mediocre and will not be able to achieve any heights.
The original title of the film “Nocturnal Animals” sounds more meaningful, because the so-called “nocturnal animals” are not only the three killers from Edward’s novel, but also Susan herself, whom he jokingly called “nocturnal animals” she always had trouble sleeping.
Drawing obvious parallels with reality and fiction, one can also notice Edward’s attitude towards Susan when he says that he wrote for her all night, and then, in the novel, describes Tony’s dialogue with his wife, in which she does not resist the fact that he drove along the highway all night, which was the cause of the future tragedy.
Explanation of the Nocturnal Animals ending
At the end of the film, the hero of Edward Tony’s novel dies in pursuit of revenge. Susan finishes the book, makes an appointment with Edward and decides to completely change her life. She does not wear bright makeup and takes off all her jewelry, wanting to appear before him as she was in her student years. The only mistake the heroine makes is that she makes an appointment at an expensive restaurant, once again emphasizing the gap that lies between the successful owner of the gallery and the as yet unknown writer.
The girl puts on a beautiful green dress and heads to the restaurant. As she sips her second cocktail, Susan realizes that Edward is not coming. Moreover, she realizes that he did not intend to meet with her. We watch her face turn into a mask of bitterness. As she realizes, she realizes that “Animals of the Night” is not a compliment in her honor, but a deliberate act of revenge for all the pain that she, like the villains from the book, caused Edward. She realizes that he will never forgive her, and the book is a poignant message about how thoroughly she devastated him. The screen darkens on Susan’s face as she tries not to cry in public.
Why Edward Didn’t Come – Both endings of the film demonstrate that Edward did die after all. In the novel “Animals of the Night” “for real”, but in reality, his death can be characterized by the fact that he crossed the line of relations with Susan, and is not going to return to her under any pretext.
The essence of the film Nocturnal Animals
A cross-cutting theme of the film is the desire for revenge. She can be seen not only in the act of Edward or read about it in his book. One of the most painful moments of the entire film is the scene in which Susan looks at the painting “Revenge”, unable to understand where it came from and why it worries her so much. She is so carried away by her narcissism and the memories of how well Edward treated her that she is unable to understand what changes his character suffered after she left him.
Tony Hastings mourned the death of his wife and daughter for over a year before learning that their killers were back on the radar. He could move on, but instead he chose to take revenge, which led to his death.
Just like Edward himself, who was unable to overcome his idealized vision of Susan. In his book, he must metaphorically kill her (and their potential child) as well as himself in order to get rid of this addiction. His book is not just a novel about revenge, it is a real exorcism that seems to have worked.