Psychological horror ‘Nocturne‘ is the tale of a musically-gifted young girl who crosses all limits in order to achieve her dreams. The film focuses on the theme of sibling rivalry, in which the two sisters, Vivian and Juliet, grow apart as the film progresses. The two sisters hurt each other cruelly, blinded by their ambition and drive in the pursuit of absolute greatness.
The show’s premise tiptoes around the concept of how much cost can anyone pay to get just a little bit closer towards the fulfillment of one’s dreams through perfection. You can stream the show on Amazon Prime, in case you haven’t watched it. The Sydney Sweeny-starrer movie, Nocturne, ends on a rather ambiguous note, so continue reading if you, too, are confused about whether or not Juliet dies just like Moira.
Nocturne: Plot Synopsis
The film opens with the disturbing sequence of Moira Wilson’s committing suicide. Moira, a music prodigy, played Giuseppe Tartini’s ‘Devil’s Trill Sonata’ before jumping off the balcony. It is later revealed that she had an extremely tragic past that probably lead her into taking this step.
The scene cuts to show Nocturne’s two main characters, the twins- Juliet (Sydney Sweeney) and Vivian (Madison Iseman). Juliet states that out of the two, even though she was the first one to show an interest in music, Vivian has somehow managed to outshine her by becoming a superior pianist somewhere along the way.
Vivian gets accepted into Juilliard, leaving Juliet behind once again. After Moira’s death, she is given a chance to perform the concerto solo in the same school as Juliet. Juliet is jealous of Vivian’s talent and her perfect relationship with Max (Jacques Colimon). Initially, Vivian deals with her sister’s anger, maturely and playfully. But later in the movie, she also proves herself to be just as hateful and cruel as her sister.
Nocturne Ending Explained
After Juliet finds Moira’s notebook, she finds scribbles of some images that can be best defined as demonic rituals or manifestations, which might be inspired by Moira’s tragic life. Soon, a desperate and vengeful Juliet starts idolizing Moira and starts to feel that the images are somehow manifesting or projecting themselves into her life. Something takes over her, and she grows more confident and resentful towards her sister.
She even decides to play the same piece as her sister. She passes out while playing during the trials, possibly due to the overpowering anxiety associated with the evil thoughts of overthrowing her sister. She does not get in, but she does manage to get rid of her old and conservative trainer, Roger- switching him out for Dr. Cask (Ivan Shaw), who also happens to be Vivian’s teacher.
She delves more and more into Moira’s journals and starts having nightmares. She gets invited to a private college drug party, where she bonds with Max. After watching the two talk, Vivian gets jealous and starts chasing after Juliet, angered. During the process, she falls and breaks her arm, allowing Juliet to take her place on stage. Juliet begins to feel that Moira is helping her. She feels empowered, but in an odd way.
To turn the tables even more for Vivan, Juliet sleeps with Max, manifesting yet another journal image in her own life. Not just that, but Juliet also finds out about the scandalous relationship between Vivian and Cask. She tells everything to Max, who breaks up with Vivian. Vivian now loses everything, at least in Juliet’s eyes.
As Nocturne ends, Juliet realizes that she might also kill herself and suffer the same fate as Moira. She burns the journal, recollects herself, and heads over to the concert. While getting ready, Vivian visits her, telling her that no one important will be watching her deliver her best piece. Juliet also realizes that by the end of the day, it is Vivian who will still have an acceptance letter, and not her.
After her sister’s hurtful words, Juliet is heartbroken and completely freezes on stage. Now, her desire to be seen, will be what it always was- just a desire. She runs away from the stage, making her way to the roof. She sees the glowy yellow light and kills herself, just like Moira. The ending scene is intentionally filled with surreal and complex shots that might confuse the audience.
Proof That Juliet Kills Herself
In the final shots, we see Juliet playing the best solo possible, but don’t let these moments distract you. Juliet clearly burns her hands in water after talking to Vivian, but there are no marks visible when she is playing on the stage. Also, for a brief moment, we see the hands of a man playing a piano, as if after Juliet left the stage, someone else took over, to keep the concert going.
As the performance ends, Vivian smiles at Juliet, which is not quite fitting, after she called her so many things after the bathroom fight scene. In fact, Vivian felt a twisted pleasure in reminding Juliet that she froze the last time she went on stage. This makes the concept of Juliet killing herself due to shame even more plausible.
No one sees Juliet on the campus after she dies. This might be a way to convey a message to the audiences- that Juliet was unseen, even after her death. This could be the director’s take on nihilism.
What Did Juliet’s Visions Mean?
There are still two possible forces that might have come into play as the reason behind Juliet’s visions of successfully delivering a grand performance.
The first possibility is that Juliet simply drove herself crazy. It was her mind playing tricks on her all this time. She found Moira’s journal as an excuse to take everything away from her sister to exact her revenge. Despite trying so hard and making her sister feel miserable, she still felt unworthy, and therefore killed herself, the same way as Moira, the ‘musical prodigy’ (unlike her own self). Nocturne ends, and Juliet finally cracks. She ‘imagines’ herself delivering a memorable performance instead of actually giving one, as she jumps off the roof.
The second possibility is that Moira’s notebook is a way of making a deal with the Devil. Initially, while playing in the trails, Juliet sees a vision of herself receiving applause after her performance in the same dress and venue. The Devil lures her in with this fake vision, but he does deliver on his promise in the end- with a twist. She realizes that nothing has actually changed, but it is too late. Juliet gives in, desperate, especially after ruining her performance, and as she falls to her death. The Devil allows her a moment of contentment by showing her that she has, at last, delivered a memorable performance.
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