Nocturnal Animals: Movie Plot Ending Twist

So I watched the movie Nocturnal Animals a couple of days ago directed by famous director and producer Tom Ford. I was stunned by the ending of this film. I love watching most of the Jake Gyllenhaal movies. He often plays drama thrillers genre. Anyway, here I am going to explain very briefly a plot and ending of the movie Nocturnal Animals.

Nocturnal Animals: Movie Plot Ending Twist

Movie: Nocturnal Animals
Genre: Crime, Drama, Thriller
Release Year: 2016
Director: Tom Ford
Run Time: 1 hr 56 min
My Rating: 4.5/5


Note: Be Aware of the Spoilers


Plot Explanation – Brief

There are two stories in the movie: One movie’s story and another Book’s Story. They are quite related with each other. In fact, they are an analogy. The movie is about the Edward’s (writer’s) life and the book is a story of a person named Tony. Edward hands the very first complete printed novel to his ex-wife Susan after 19 years of separation.


The Movie

Edward is Susan’s first crush so as Susan is his. Edward is kind and romantic, whereas Susan is realistic and practical. Yet, they both fall in love and get married despite Susan’s being warned by her mother not to marry him. Susan doesn’t like Edward’s writing and doesn’t believe in him.

Eventually, she leaves Edward for handsome and dashing businessman Hutton Morrow. She even secretly aborts Edward’s child. However, Edward catches her red-handed outside the hospital in a pouring rain. Edward feels devastated and brutally suffers deep inside. He lost his love of his life (wife) and an unborn baby. So Susan gets married to Hutton who often cheats on her. In fact, he despises her.

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The Book

As mentioned earlier, the story is about Tony’s life. His and Edward’s nature is very alike. So three crooked gangs Ray, Lou, and Turk happen to drive on the same highway where Tony, his wife, and their young daughter are driving. On the way, the gang keeps on bothering Tony’s family. Unfortunately, Tony’s front car’s tire gets punctured and three goons promise to fix them their car.

Tony is polite and kind throughout the conversation despite the gang’s threatening and bully. Then two of the gang members grab and forcefully take Tony’s wife and daughter to their car and drive away while Lou keeps the hold of Tony. Fast forward, Tony later, with the help of police, finds his wife and a sweet daughter raped and murdered lying naked. Tony is saddened and cries in a grievance.

With the help of law-abiding police officer Bob, Tony identifies the killers of his family and they are captured as cell-mates. However. they are later set free by the corrupt D.A. Bob is retiring very soon and he has a final-stage lung cancer. His case is dismissed and given to another officer by D.A. He is tired of these criminals getting out of the law everytime due to the corruption. So he decides to take the action in his own way and talks about it to Tony. And Tony supports his idea. Bob later kills Lou in the camp and Tony kills Ray in his own house. As Tony is left blinded by Ray hitting him with an iron rod, he stumbles and falls and mistakenly shoots himself. He dies in the end.

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What is the Connection Between the Book and the Movie?

  • Tony and Edward’s characters are very similar. They are both polite, decent, kind, and somehow delicate.
  • In the book, Tony loses his wife and daughter London in a very tragic way. They were both murdered and rape. His daughter suffered more. She was being suffocated.
    Edward lost his wife and daughter (abortion) in a dark place like on the highway. This it to infer an analogy to us (audiences).
  • Tony lost his wife and daughter due to his weakness. His inability to save and protect them cost their lives. Similarly, Edward was weak and helpless so he lost his wife in the first place.
  • Both are seeking revenge.
  • Tony kills himself (mistakenly) after seeking the revenge. Edwards kills himself (by not showing up) after setting up the meeting.

The Final Ending Twist

After reading the book, Susan admires Edward for his work and agrees to meet up at a fancy restaurant. She dresses beautifully and looks happy. Maybe she wants to patch things up with him or maybe she decides to live with him for the rest of her life. She looks determined. However, after hours of waiting, Edward doesn’t show up. She later realizes that the book was an analogy to prove his life with the book in the sense that Susan killed his wife and daughter so he’s already dead by not showing up. Further, Edward knows her emptiness. She wasn’t there when he was in intense need of her. And he decides not to be there when things were going not well for her. It was a sweet revenge.

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The ending also proves Edward is over Susan and he is no week anymore. He is living 19 years without her and can live rest of life without Susan.

As there are tons, literally tons, of theories out there on the internet, after a vivid explanation, I decided to write something by myself here. The story itself is not open-ended and the only person I believe who can interpret it correctly is the director himself.

Have you watched the movie yet? What do you think about the ending? Have your say in the comment below.