- Alternative Character Interpretation: Or, rather, "alternative story interpretation", considering that all animated sequences is an elaborate Imagine Spot in Micheal's head, it begs the question as to whether or not Ida and Angie are as mutually abusive ("trying to kill each other" abusive) as the animation really portrays them. One could say, they hate each other and, probably do beat each other and argue a lot, but their feelings towards each other are not as extreme as Micheal might imagine them to be. Likewise, some of the things his parents (especially Ida's) say and do in the sequences might just come from memory and his interpretations of them.
- Similarly, while their relationship is abusive and considering the pistol whipping Angie gave her, it begs the question as to whether Angie or Ida was always the aggressor.
- Is Angie really a mobster? Is he really a racist? Does he really cheat on Ida? Or is Michael just imagining him that way?
- Is Carol really such a toxic influence on Michael, or is she actually good for him in the "real" world?
- Do any of the film's other characters (Shorty, Snowflake, Molly, Rosa, Michael's uncle, Crazy Moe, the Godfather) really exist, or are they just creations of Michael's imagination?
- In regards to the Imagine Spot as a whole, is any of what we're seeing real? It's obvious Michael being shot by Shorty didn't really happen, since Michael is just fine in the "real" world, but what about the rest of it? Did any of it really happen, or is it all just a story Michael is making up in his head? If some of it really happened, how accurately are the events and characters portrayed in Michael's memories?
- Why is Michael even imagining this particular story in the first place? Why is he imagining himself becoming a thief and a murderer and then getting gunned down in the streets? Why is he imagining his parents and girlfriend in this way?
- Jerkass Woobie: Ida, as the scene of her past reminiscences show. She was once happy (and pretty) and she and Angie were once in love, however, after a long time of affairs and illegal connections made her very bitter and her marriage an abusive one.
- Nightmare Fuel: Micheal's gruesomely animated death scene.
- Tear Jerker: The scene where Ida reminisces on her past, especially when she sees a photo of herself in her youth. Obviously, she was very happy (and pretty) before.
YMMV / Heavy Traffic