by Joalda Morancy, Shahrez Aziz, Wyn Veiga, Ashwin Prabhu, and Frank Martin
Plot & Occurrences
As the film comes to an end, it becomes apparent that Alexandre will finally receive closure in regards to the dark conspiracy that was revealed to him in the previous scene. After learning of the absolute truth from Margot’s father, he heads to the lake where he initially fell in love with Margot as kids. After finishing his drive, he exits the car to see the damaged dock where the initial incident occurred. A reflection of his relationship, the dock has broken as a result of the damage over the last eight years. He continues to the tree where they would mark each year together, reflecting on their relationship. A crucial element of the scene in this is Alexandre’s bloodied hand in the everlasting beauty of the forest, a signal of how their relationship has been through so much torment.
But suddenly, Margot appears from the bushes as promised. It is clear by Alexandre’s reaction that he overheard her footsteps, immediately breaking down. One important aspect of this scene for me was how Margot comforts Alexandre from behind in the same way that he initially comforted her when engraving the tree at the beginning of the film. After this, we see some extremely emotional close-ups of the two characters as they rejoice with one another. The film ends with a flashback of the two as young children on the now-damaged dock, kissing one another and with Margot putting her head on Alexandre’s shoulder. This ending provides a sense of closure to the viewer, suggesting that things can return to normal. I truly found it to be one of the most beautiful movie endings I have ever seen, and it provided a strangely satisfying feeling. Throughout the entire film, Alexandre is oblivious to the harsh reality of his relationship with Margot. As a result of this, he undeservingly sees his entire life crumble before his eyes. However, that innocence has slowly grown into a knowledge of the truth. If there is one thing that Canet shows the viewer at the ending of the film, it is that nice guys sometimes do end up winning.
In the closing moments of the film, we get the first good look at Margot’s full figure as she slowly walks into frame. The scene was the same as the beginning of the movie where Alex and Margot last spent time together before they were forced apart for eight years. Surrounding the tree, that Alex is standing by, are the same flowers that were sent to Alex by Margot’s father to tell Alex to come visit him. The whole movie foreshadows this moment as Alex begins to weep and Margot becomes visible as she walks into the garden. The entire movie, we only see portions of Margot and her body, so to finally see her whole figure and she embraces Alex gives the perfect ending. It is a happy ending that everyone can get behind.
With much of the final five minutes of the film being set in the same location in which the film’s first five minutes were set, we see many of the same shots from the beginning to make the film come full circle. As such, the film employs more wide angle shots and plays around with the depth of field quite a bit in these final moments. At the start of this final scene, as the truth of what Margot’s father told Alex is revealed to us, the camera shows us a close up of Alex as he takes in all that has happened in the climax of the movie. In a way, the camera work climaxes here too, as most of the film has been very centred on characters and on Alex in particular with showing what exactly he is going through at the time. However, right after we get this climactic big close up on Alex, the camera switches to a wide shot of his car approaching his destination, which is identical to a shot at the beginning of the movie, and this shot signals the film now reverting to much wider shots for its remainder rather than the more character focused shots we have seen make up most of the film so far. I believe this switch is best characterized by the shot of Alex by the tree. As we see Margot approach from the bushes behind him, she is out of focus and the camera employs a shallow depth of field. But as Alex comes to realize she is behind him, the camera tracks back to show us a wider shot as she comes into focus.
At the very end, after they embrace, the camera tilts upward, again giving us these wider shots that we did not get to see for most of the movie. As the camera tilts down again, we see Alex and Margot at the same lake as children, making the movie come full circle.
During these final moments in the film, we really see the culmination of the different themes that took place. The first is deception, and we see this occur when Margot’s father avoided being heard by the police by using the static from his television. He deceived the police by using this static to privately tell information that he only wants Alex to understand. The next is dishonesty, which also ties in with the last theme. We learn from Margot’s father that it was, in fact, Margot who killed Phillipe, not him, and also that her father was lying to protect her this entire time. This theme is constant throughout the film and is wrapped up through a scene that shows Margot killing Phillipe with a shotgun. The last big theme is a combination of love and heartbreak. Heartbreak is something that is demonstrated throughout the film with Alex mourning his supposed dead wife Margot. During the second to last scene of the film, we see Alex return to the tree where he and Margot first fell in love, and we kind of see this heartbreak turn into a more positive, affectionate love since they are again reunited and can begin to move on with their lives.
In the final moments of the film, the editing stays true to the style that had seen throughout the film, this time featuring cuts between Alex’s face as he’s driving, Margot’s father in front of the TV, and the scene in which we witness Margot murdering Phillipe. While there are cuts to these three moments concurrently, we are able to understand the flow of the scene and the events of the film. This type of cutting creates a “layering effect” and seems to highlight the compounding thoughts that are occurring in Alex’s mind as he drives towards the lake. As he drives the path to the lake, there is a cut to the sign that he took down as him and Margot went to the lake in the beginning of the movie, and the audience understands the story is about to come full circle in some respects, which of course it does as Margot and Alex are finally reunited.