Nocturnal Animals: Was Susan A Bitch?

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Have you seen Tom Ford’s latest directorial effort “Nocturnal Animals”? If not, then you should definitely go see it. Whether you like the man’s persona or not, you cannot deny his talent. I believe he once said: “I am one of those people who isn’t great at anything, but I’m pretty good at most things.” Well, that’s enough for me and quite frankly he’s being humble…

Now… what is “Nocturnal Animals” about? Susan (Amy Adams) an art gallery owner receives an “unexpected” manuscript from her estranged ex-husband Edward (Jake Gyllenhaal). He dedicated the book to her and now he wants to know her opinion. The more she reads it, the more she comes to a peculiar realization: the novel is a revenge tale. So in her mind, Edward is basically “coming after her” for what she did. By the way, it’s called “Nocturnal Animals” because that was Edward’s nickname for Susan.

In my opinion, the film was an amazing visual experience — pure eye candy. And now that I’m thinking about it, it makes sense. What else would you expect from Tom Ford? However, that’s not everything. As a viewer, it’s almost impossible to arrive at the end of the “journey” and not form some kind of judgement about the two main characters: Susan and Edward.

(If you don’t want spoilers, then stop reading the post.)

When the film’s end credits were rolling I was like: “Susan had it coming. What a bitch!” But then, I was like: “Was she really a bitch, though?” This is what I want to know. What did she do to Edward that was so horrible? This is the million dollar question that kept me glued to the screen. What could this woman have done to Edward that was so horrible? Turns out, she had an affair with her current husband while she was married to Edward. On top of that, she got an abortion without Edward knowing about it (which he found later, after he “caught” her with another man). Hmm… that’s pretty bad. But is it enough to deem her as a vile woman? As I see it, it’s complicated.

Let’s go back to the beginning of their relationship. Basically, Edward and Susan come from very different worlds. Though they are both educated people, Susan comes from a wealthier family than Edward. At the beginning, that fact doesn’t really weigh on their relationship because they are still in the “honeymoon” phase. However, reality set in once they got married. Susan wanted nice things (as she always did) but she wasn’t getting them from her relationship with Edward. It’s sad, but Edward’s writing career wasn’t making any advancements at the time. He kept accusing Susan of not being supportive of his career, but can you really blame her?

Was Susan A Bitch?

After some careful consideration: I would have to say “no”. Why? Not everyone is going to agree on this, but I don’t think her intentions were ill-intended. Yes, she did have an affair. Yes, she did “kill” Edward’s baby. However, she didn’t do it to intentionally hurt Edward. She felt trapped in a relationship in which she saw no future. What she did wasn’t right, but she didn’t have malicious intent behind her actions. Having said that, I wouldn’t consider her a bitch.

Let’s now talk a little bit about that inconclusive ending that lead me to raise another question. But before I give you the answer to my second question, I would like to share my own thoughts about that ambiguous ending. In my opinion, I don’t think anything “bad” happened to Edward for him to miss that dinner with Susan. Yes, the main character in his book dies but that is just a metaphor to illustrate how Edward feels about Susan. As I see it, that was his way to show Susan that he can write a pretty damn good novel and that he has finally moved on.

Now… Was Edward A Bitch?

Some might even find this question funny, but I think it’s a legitimate question. Now… I have very mixed feelings about Edward. On one hand, I’m like: “poor Edward, Susan really broke his heart”. But on the other hand, it’s been years since she dumped him. I mean, isn’t it time to move on? The best revenge that he could have ever gotten was to live a great life. Susan moved on with her life, she got married again and had a daughter. As I said before, the ending of the film is quite ambiguous, Edward didn’t show up at the restaurant (though he scheduled dinner with Susan). But what the hell does that mean? If you ask me, that was a bitch move.

Having said that, “Nocturnal Animals” got me me raising a lot of questions and that’s what interesting films are supposed to do. Susan is a career-driven woman, that left a man that did not met her standards. In my opinion, she is a non-conformist, but that doesn’t make her a bitch. You know what? That makes me think of how little it takes for a woman to be deemed “evil” in our current society. What does that tell us about the way how we perceive women? Think about.

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