Nocturnal Animals book and movie review. (2017)
Whether you like to watch first movies and then follow up with the book or the other way around it doesn’t really matter when you speak about “Nocturnal animals”.
It is a strange movie and even a stranger novel, not because it is a “story in story” kind of plot, but because you cannot imagine a more far away adaptation of the movie.
Lets start with the main plot, the long story short version is that Susan (one of the two main characters) receives a manuscript from her ex husband from which she divorced (broke up) 25 years ago.
All good until she starts to read the story which is a violent, sad and pure tragic. The story of Tony which drives around across country to Maine with his wife and teenage daughter.
That until they end up pulled on the right side of the road by three thugs (Ray, Lou and Turk). They basically kidnap, rape and kill Tony’s family which leaving him in the middle of nowhere alone in the night.
Things evolve from there in the direction of Tony getting his life together in a sort of way so he can still hope to get enough energy and courage to catch these people.
Along comes Bobby Andes, the local police detective/officer who actually does the most work towards catching the criminals and he actually manages to finish two of them , leaving Ray (the gang leader) the last.
I will not put any spoilers on both the movie or book but the end is something that is not very clear (at least not on the first view). There are a lot of questions hanging and things like “What is the meaning of Nocturnal Animals?”
If you want to look at it just from the point of view of Tony/Edward then the main reason for making his characters suffer is because Susan needs a lesson in what “real life” would be for her if she wouldn’t be rich.
True, Edward had a more uncertain future (financially speaking) but he was what Susan never became , an artist. Even though she was talented (fact that he points out all the time) she chooses to ignore the potential and her future with him.
Why? Tony may say because she was her mother’s daughter.
Now looking from her point of view, Edward/Tony were basically one and the same person: a romantic, a sentimental and emotional person (which took very bad advises and his feelings were always in trouble of getting hurt).
In a way Edward understood her more than she understood herself, asking her to “give up” on a rich lifestyle for her passion, because himself followed the same principle. That’s why he wrote her the book, to prove a point that he could do it, that he was right all along and that she could do it too.
The beginning of the book is in a way the most action packed, thrilling and scary. You feel and understand Tony’s predicament, the hope and the confusion that overwhelm him.
Should he fight the strangers and lose? Should he try to reach to their humanity? Why did he believed he was among civilized people in the first place?
Whatever direction the plot takes us it is through the eyes of Susan who watches through the eyes of Edward. Maybe the moral of the story (which somehow applies as well to Susan’s life) is : if in doubt about doing what is right or what society thinks is right, better to go with your version. If she would stay with Edward, if Tony would pick up a crowbar… what would have happened?
We are so trapped into this idea of what is right and wrong that sometimes when it actually matters (like in our hero’s situation) it is almost impossible to act on your own , so you end up doing things that seem illogical and fatal.
Why believe a bunch of thugs that everything will turn up to be ok, when they proved they have different plans… where to draw the line?
Like I said, both book and the movie have raised to many questions that it is better to see other’s opinion when it comes to “Nocturnal Animals”. In any case it is a very intriguing story that I recommend to anyone interested in thrillers.
Until next time,