Nocturnal Animals: A dark drama about the dangers of giving up on love and yourself

Title: Nocturnal Animals

Genre: Dark Drama

Description: A woman receives a manuscript from her ex-husband she cheated on and reflects on their relationship while reading it.

This movie has three layers that I became equally invested in, which is hard to do.

The first layer is the present day story of Susan (Amy Adams) who is married to a bigshot businessman who neglects her and cheats on her. The second layer is the historical story of Susan and her painfully romantic relationship with her ex-husband Edward (Jake Gyllenhaal). The third layer is the tragic fictional story written by her ex-husband that keeps her up at night.

While this movie is upsetting — especially the fictional story of a helpless man who must watch his wife and daughter become victims of road rage, rape, and murder — it’s beautifully composed and reminds me of the dangers of materialism and superficiality. However, it’s also pessimistic, and arguably realistic, in how it shows that you’re destined to be a certain way. Sensitive in Edward’s case and hardened in Susan’s case.

Lesson: You’ll eventually regret giving up on love and yourself, and the people you hurt along the way may not forgive you. That said, we must accept the reality that we do things in the moment that we’ll regret in the future but must forgive ourselves, even if others don’t.

Ending Theory (Spoiler): At the end of the movie, you wonder why Edward doesn’t show up to dinner. I think he either killed himself or stood up Susan to prove he wasn’t weak. He could train himself to be strong and revengeful, something he inherently is not, unlikely Susan who wasn’t willing to train herself to stay with him out of love. Remember the piece of art that says “Revenge” in the art studio? That foreshadows this idea. He also dedicated the novel to her, but not in a good way.

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