Nocturnal Animals Ending Explained: Why Edward Didn’t Come?

The meaning of the film “Nocturnal Animals”

Tom Ford’s Nocturnal Animals is a story of graceful revenge, if, of course, you can call graceful revenge. For several evenings, the main character – the owner of an art gallery named Susan – realizes how far her life has diverged from the dreams of her youth. Her ex-husband tells her about this through his brilliant novel. Nocturnal Animals Movie Meaning & Film Analysis.

What is Edward’s novel really about?

In the novel “Animals of the Night,” Edward described his own inner world. Tony Hastings’ story is how Edward reflected on Susan’s departure. Susan hurt him as much as she could — she didn’t believe in his writing talent; she considered him weak; she left him for a man who was his complete opposite; she took away from him the opportunity to become a father.

For Edward, the pain of losing his wife and unborn daughter is comparable to that of Tony Hastings, whose wife and daughter were brutally murdered by night bandits. In addition, the gang mocks Tony’s weakness, and even Police Lieutenant Bobby Andes talks to Tony with subtle mockery at first.

Bobby: As far as I understand, the guys had no weapons.Tony: No.Bobby: Hmm. It’s clear. So what comes out: someone named Lou took you somewhere in the bushes and threw you out?Tony: No, he … put me behind the wheel.

In real life, Susan and her mother consider Edward to be weak, although they do not tell him about it directly. But the most painful thing for Edward is that Susan has a low opinion of his work. “I think you need to write about more than just yourself,” she says to Edward. “All writers always write about themselves,” objected Edward. Nocturnal Animals is his next book about himself, which will become both a recognized masterpiece and Susan’s personal revenge.

Under Cover of Night (Nocturnal Animals) - Philosophy and Concept of the Film

Edward’s revenge and the meaning of the ending

While Susan was building her family life and developing the gallery she hated, Edward perfected his literary skills. He sends the manuscript of his first novel to Susan, and she immediately plunges into reading. The narrative captures her from the first pages. Now Susan is forced to admit that Edward is indeed a talented writer. Impressed by the novel, she makes an appointment with Edward, and he immediately agrees.

Edward invites Susan to indicate the meeting place herself. Naturally, Susan chooses a luxury restaurant that suits her current situation. Against the background of this luxury, she looks especially ridiculous when she orders one shot after another while waiting for Edward. But Edward still doesn’t show up. Finally, Susan understands.

Edward had no intention of coming.

She could appoint any place, any time. He would not have come.

Nocturnal Animals – brilliantly written, destined to succeed – is Edward’s revenge on his ex-wife. Revenge for not believing in him saw him as a weak, self-centered bad writer. With his novel, he proved to her that his inner world is brighter and richer than the “real” world in which Susan is immersed. He reminded her of the dream she had betrayed and made her regret the choice she made twenty years ago.

Under Cover of Night (Nocturnal Animals) - Philosophy and Concept of the Film

Talking details in the film Nocturnal Animals

Painting with the inscription REVENGE

Walking through her gallery, Susan stumbles upon a strange painting – a white canvas with black letters REVENGE (revenge). Susan doesn’t remember where this picture came from. A colleague reminds her that she herself acquired the painting a few years ago. The meaning of this detail becomes clear only in the finale. Revenge is the central theme of both stories: Tony takes revenge on his family’s killers, and Edward takes revenge on Susan.

Under Cover of Night (Nocturnal Animals) - Philosophy and Concept of the Film

“Night” parallels

The main parallel, of course, has to do with the title of the film and the novel. In the original, they are called the same: Nocturnal Animals . Why the translators of the film turned the title into “Nocturnal Animals” – I do not know.

In the novel, “nocturnal animals” obviously refers to a gang of assassins who attack the Hastings family on the night track. In real life, “nocturnal animal” is the cute nickname that Edward used to call Susan. By presenting her with the nickname of a company of robbers and rapists, Edward makes it clear that her departure was no less brutal than a night attack and murder.

There is another, more subtle parallel in the film, related to the night. During an argument, Edward tells Susan, “I wrote all night, I wanted you to like it.” Compare this to the conversation between Tony and his daughter:

India: Maybe we can go without an overnight stay? I would like to quickly.Tony: Ask your mother, she’s in charge.

As can be understood from subsequent events, Tony’s wife decides to go without an overnight stay. The subtext that can be read here is this: Tony is ready to drive all night for his wife, but this leads to tragedy, since it is not safe on the highway. Edward is ready to write all night for Susan’s sake, but this leads to a breakup, since Susan does not appreciate his work.

Under Cover of Night (Nocturnal Animals) - Philosophy and Concept of the Film

Real world

The real world and the fictional world are very clearly separated in the film. But is the real world really so real? Part of the action takes place in Susan’s memory – her memories of Edward have long ceased to be reality. And what surrounds Susan in the present is too empty and lifeless. Therefore, the world of Tony Hastings seems more full-blooded and real than the world of Susan. This is confirmed by the words that Carlos, a friend of the protagonist, says:

“Susan, enjoy the absurdity of our world. It hurts less that way. Trust me, there is much less pain in our world than in the real world. ”

Under Cover of Night (Nocturnal Animals) - Philosophy and Concept of the Film

Edward’s book

We haven’t seen a single line of Edward’s novel, but somehow we know it’s very well written. Of course, Susan herself repeatedly talks about this, but besides this, there are other details. Remember how Susan said to Edward during their quarrel (referring to his manuscript): “I just read, and thought about something else – it’s wrong, right?” Now the opposite is true: the book bewitches Susan so much that her characters begin to appear as a woman in real life. Now Susan thinks about the book even when she’s not reading it.

If you think about it, the plot of the book does not seem so exciting: it is a story of revenge, bloody and in places repulsive. The only person who can understand the subtext of the story is Susan, but she was not the only one who liked the book. As far as I understand, the power of Edward’s book lies not in the plot, but in subtle psychologism, in a skillfully created atmosphere, in realistic landscape sketches. The film cannot convey this directly, but landscape inserts and a very strong musical background work to create the same atmosphere.

Under Cover of Night (Nocturnal Animals) - Philosophy and Concept of the Film

The meaning of the ending Nocturnal Animals

Susan was once afraid of becoming like her mother. Now she looks like her as never before: callous, pragmatic, under the mask of too bright makeup and expensive jewelry.

Once Susan wanted to become an artist, but gave up this venture. She now owns a gallery and exhibits works that make her sick.

Once Susan went to “the lucky handsome Hatton, who is very lucky and handsome.” Now Hatton is on the verge of bankruptcy and, moreover, is cheating on his wife.

Edward’s book awakens her old dreams in Susan. She asks a colleague: “Have you ever thought that life has taken a wrong turn?” In the ending, before the supposed meeting with Edward, Susan is ready to throw away everything she has come to in the last twenty years. As if driven by a desire to cleanse, she rinses off makeup and takes off jewelry to return to her previous image. In the finale, Susan realizes that Edward is lost to her forever; but there is still hope for her. Mentally, she had already renounced her husband and the gallery, now the most difficult thing remains – to return to her old dreams and have time to make them come true.

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