Sayen (2023) Movie Ending Explained: Alexander Witt’s ‘Sayen’ brings up the age-old theme of the battle for natural habitat. While an indigenous community fights for its survival, an industrialist authority wants to crush its spirit. An evident factor of sentiment is involved in the script’s cry for preservation.
But more importantly, it is about the aspect of ‘habitat’ that progress provides. Do the people it claims to provide for really need the said developments? And does it have to come at the cost of complete eradication? The film begs us to consider these queries with a beaten-to-death formulaic approach.
In a standard black-vs-white set-up, this Prime Video film becomes an overly simplistic exploration of these themes in a familiar narration style.
Sayen (2023) Plot Summary & Movie Synopsis
This action thriller film’s narrative occurs largely in southern Chile’s forests. A young Mapuche woman, Sayen (Rallen Montenegro), returns to her native land after over six years of studying. After spending a while away, she is excited to meet her grandmother – Ilwen. Despite all that time, their bond is just as strong as before. Later that day, she attends a ritual with other community members and gets a sense of homecoming. But she still feels her father’s absence, who was brutally murdered at the hands of the authorities.
At night, she has a dialogue with other community members about their current state. They discuss whether change is required or not and share their differing opinions on how they should sustain their land. They chat about the futility of social media publicity, which soon turns into an argument. The grandmother stops it, and the night ends without any consensus. The next morning, she travels along with her grandmother to a hilltop and hears a story about how the winkas (outsiders) have taken away the soul of their land.
Later that day, a few people arrive at Ilwen’s house to propose a deal. While representing a company, Actaeon, Antonio (Arón Piper), and Lira (Alejandro Trejo) propose a deal for a sustainable future for the community in exchange for selling her acres of land. Ilwen rejects this offer, saying they need no help from people like him, who kept snatching away this sacred land from their community for centuries.
When Antonio and his associates travel back to their base, Sayen secretly follows them. While they are discussing their plans, she eavesdrops on them. She learns that they are trying to exploit the land to gain possession of the cobalt deposits. One of the company men notices her recording their conversation and starts following her. After evading their attacks through the forest, she finally reaches her house and reveals to Ilwen their shady motives.
Ilwen tries to talk sense into these men. It enrages Antonio, who shoots her dead. Then he knocks down Sayen, and both their bodies are taken back to the house, which is then set on fire. Luckily, Sayen manages to escape in time and runs away. This tragedy makes her determined to seek revenge for her grandmother and the land that they deeply care about. Meanwhile, Antonio and his peers try to get hold of her, fearing she will alert other community members about it before the issue gets out of their hands.
Through brief glimpses of her memories, Sayen revisits the combat training she received from her father before his death. On the other hand, Antonio’s relationship with his father is explored through his need for validation. He wants the plan to go smoothly to get his acceptance. The next day, when Miranda and Bykoz are about to shoot her dead, she jumps into the stream and ends up getting herself injured.
Meanwhile, Antonio’s father – Maximo Torres (Enrique Arce), soon learns about this situation and cooks up a plan with a local investigating officer. Instead of depicting their organization in a negative light, he puts the blame on Sayen for Ilwen’s death and subsequent losses of lives. When the governor visits the burned-down house, a Mapuche member, Jose (Camilo Arancibia), tries to make a case for Sayen’s innocence. But he fails since the authorities keep their allegiance to Maximo.
During their protests, Nawel and Pedro get captured by them. But they later get rescued by Jose. The three decide to look for Sayen to work on their plan together. Meanwhile, Antonio’s people get close to Sayen, who starts attacking them. She drops Antonio, Bykoz, and Miranda down a stream.
While they eventually get out and go on a lookout for Sayen, she meets injured Lira. He tells about Maximo’s exploitative plan and how he has done the same in other places. He then pleads for his life by trying to make her sympathize about how his family also needs him. The next morning, she finds that he died in his sleep. Meanwhile, on their way to find Sayen, the Mapuche rebel duo (Pedro and Nawel) comes across Miranda and Antonio and gets shot dead.
Sayen then follows Miranda and manages to knock her down. Unfortunately, Antonio gets hold of her and ties her to a tree. He is pissed that she has complicated the matters instead of taking their deal. Their banter again reflects their personal philosophies about development and progress. She eventually manages to escape, thanks to Jose. He believes that instead of killing these individuals, they should focus on publicizing their evil intent, which would be more beneficial for the community. Unfortunately, he gets shot dead by Antonio right after their conversation.
Sayen (2023) Movie Ending Explained
Does Sayen manage to get revenge for her grandmother’s death?
Since Antonio is hellbent on killing her, Sayen starts running away for her life. She gets on a boat, and he keeps following her. In their cat-and-mouse chase, she fights physically with him and manages to kill him. She sees it as her revenge for her father’s and grandmother’s deaths. By jumping in the water, she also escapes from the police officials, who were trying to capture her by helicopter.
Maximo and his peers continue to portray Sayen as a terrorist for trying to save her land. Meanwhile, she escapes an eviction by changing her appearance (going bald) and taking a lift back to the city. While at the moment, she saw the act of killing as her vengeance, the real struggle awaits her. In case there is a sequel for this film, I hope the writers spend an ample amount of time navigating these conflicts beyond their surface-level understanding. Besides that, I also hope that they make her character not just limited to these identity struggles and provide her personality more than a lust for vengeance.
Also Read: The Enforcer (2022) Review: An irredeemable action thriller that depends on mafia film cliches
Sayen (2023) Movie Links: IMDb, Rotten Tomatoes
Sayen (2023) Movie Cast: Rallen Montenegro, Enrique Arce, Roberto García Ruiz