The Fall of Modern Movie Manhood
Graham Fuller

From your layout, Ford made very subtle yet significant ideological breaks from the Freudian noir/thriller in history.

Obsessing over an ex-love is two-sided. Susan has called Edward for 19 years without a reply. This forms a stalemate between a woman’s enduring guilt and her jilted man engulfed by his divorce trauma. Susan says aloud she thinks a lot about Edward, to the polite distance of her associate and ignorance of second husband Hutton.

The Other is the man. Ford emphasizes the umbilical cord between Susan and her mother. If Susan fell for Edward, as part of her unconscious competition with her mother for her father (whose only son is a gay black sheep of the family), then her high self-esteem from pursuing a phallus so unlike father (Edward), then replacing him with one with higher resemblance (Hutton) makes her Oedipal complex ultimately one of pleasing her mother. In other words, Susan’s self-determination isn’t defined as anything (archaic?) to compete with or compensate for a lack of phallus, but simply for choosing the Right kind of phallus over the Wrong kind, to avert her family ostracizing her.

Ford makes the apotheosis of her need for parental approval in banishing anything feminine ill-fitting into patriarchy, in her outfit as post-femme fatale that’s not used for clawing past men for better opportunities but mainained to govern her female-dominant staff within LA’s “world of absurdity”. Her hardened façade (easily fires new hires until reading Edward’s novel) is a huge departure from when she “damaged” Edward, both as young innocents. (In a young courtship that also fell outside the noir conventions: hers was a adventurous, debutante sexuality open to being a “slut”; his “fall” or damage excludes conditions of any social upheaval besides her mother simply blocking his inclusion in a rich family.) 
Ford’s Susan is a poor little rich girl who slapped away her socialite mother’s umbilical cord then climbed back into the womb. Mother knows best about the world, after all.

Instead of past femme fatales’ upward mobility, Susan’s conflict is coming to terms with her rejection of a status downgrade. With inheritance by birth if she married Hutton’s type, she aligns with her mother to reject a compounded Male Otherness: sensitive, believes in her imperfections are “perfect”, attains wealth and status slower (if at all) than a woman, lacks the “strength” her mother recognizes and is easily lumped together with her gay brother (a black sheep of her family.)
 Susan describes her family’s values while courting Edward in NYC as thusly: “(paraphrase) Conservative, racist, sexist, homophobic, materialistic, Republican.”

This class ideology is our filter for assessing Edward’s masculinity, more than speculative substance of Edward’s millennial masculinity in failing to emulate his father’s (though he’s orphaned since adolescence.) Ford is disinterested in how postwar/millennial men and women came to differ from their predecessors (though unlike Edward, Susan’s femininity is never in question whether she clones her mother), than how love and being oneself (doing and liking what you do) are nearly impossible when elders uphold patriarchy in granting support and approval to unions of the young.

Assigning Tony and Ray as superego and id of the same person, leaves out the most conventionally virile character of Bobby Andes — who offers a wry, sympathetic ally for Tony’s “weak”-ness, when he could’ve taken the same derision as hie fellow Texans, Ray (and Susan’s mother.)

By sharing the same derision towards male “weak”-ness, the class ideology of Susan’s family that rejects Edward, is equated with the disturbingly malevolent force in fictional working class that’s condescending towards Tony. The jilted is weak, compared to a woman vulnerable to brutality, even has a nightmare of “his” women being raped whilst his own body in a prone position braced against the bed springs (something even Peckinpah reserved for an actress, never Hoffman.)

Note that Ray purses his lips at Tony with mock seductive taunting and derision. He grabs at Tony’s crotch in their first meeting (as Susan proposed Edward to go home with her upon running into each other in NYC.) Why would Edward’s Tony need a traditional hardliner Bobby Andes the cop, to facilitate confronting Ray — alternately with meek angst centered on the word “dumped”, and passionate anger with great anguish? Why have Edward/Ford chosen Ray (a redneck reveling in the freedom and power of his physicality, as an open exhibition with a guitar nearby) as the target for Tony’s pent-up outpouring? Why would Susan’s repressed guilt be reflected in the Damien Hirst sculpture or huge Text painting she purchased, if her Self has been determined by free will?

This quality of “weak” is a major obsession of Susan and her Mother. She was drawn to it as a positive individuality first, before hating it just as her mom predicted. All of which are irrespective of Edward’s experience with others, since his manuscript makes the divorce a life-defining trauma. Rather than Oepidal-formed inadequacies that Susan’s mom would cosign, it behooves us to question whether judging Edward’s coping with divorce isn’t reiterating the ramifications of a patriarchal mindset: that Edward should have seen Susan as replaceable, or all women are alike to a man. The immediate details of his closest reality speak for themselves: Susan was his first crush from within his foster family. His first marriage, bore his first child and family that were never to be — all of which comprise a formative relationship. (Other than of course, you just can’t explain Love.)

Following your thesis, is Ford critiquing White Feminism as merely patriarchal values, when its haves maintain their privileges by (halfway) abandoning the have-nots they romance? Does Ford even think Susan’s “self determination” is feminist? How does Ford view her mother’s idea of appropriate gender roles, and Susan’s ultimate surrender to that which led to her current life (where she’s willing to financially rescue a near-bankrupt Hutton despite a cold marriage, but she wouldn’t stay in a warmer marriage with Edward who wrote unmarketable books?)

Ford leaves open the question, whether Susan’s art history major could’ve become a gallery owner without trading in a struggling writer for a “dashing” businessman. In short, whether she even needed a man to succeed in her career. Ford’s point is she FELT happier with a surer thing, because it’s sure according to her mother. She traded unhappiness over Edward’s uncertain earning potential, for sleepless night with a distant, struggling businessman. Her self-actualization is aligning her fears with her mother’s idea of the Right kind of phallus for a woman born rich (a man’s immediate success in early adulthood alone makes a suitable marital partner.) Even in the parting argument, she claimed she still loves Edward but can’t continue her unhappiness at his individuality that’s a hard sell to her parents or the mass readership.

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