Shortcomings (2023) Movie Ending, Explained – How did Ben come to his moment of realization?

In a relationship, perfection isn’t promised; it demands more than love alone. It requires understanding, acceptance, and appreciation. An arguably less popular opinion is that despite your best efforts, there will always be shortcomings. This is where the importance of these other aspects comes into play, as they can significantly improve the relationship, even if it can never be perfect. Randall Park, known for his role as Louis Huang in the ABC sitcom Fresh Off the Boat, has directed Shortcomings (2023).

It is adapted from Adrian Tomie’s graphic novel of the same name, written by Tomie himself. Justin H. Min and Ally Maki play the main roles. The interplay is exceptional between the lead characters as they initiate intricate discussions on sexual identity, racial disparity, and moving beyond the challenges of adolescence and embracing full maturity. It also channels the raw ’90s indie romcom feel in a modern setting where the plot revolves around Ben and Miko, who have been through a lot in their relationship.

This film is remarkably amusing, surprisingly pertinent, and features one of the most unsympathetic protagonists of the year, albeit strangely relatable. “It felt like such an accurate reflection of my life at the time and the life of my friends at the time,” said Randall Park. His directorial debut is a potent piece of work that will bring forth both laughter and discomfort in the audience. It may even wring out a few tears from those who can relate to their own resistance to personal growth and change in a world where staying still and sorting out the chaos seems like tough work. Given everything, we all have our flaws and shortcomings.

Shortcomings (2023) Plot Summary and Movie Synopsis :

Miko and Ben are watching the final scenes of a film screened at a film festival. It appears to be a parody of a successful 2018 movie, Crazy Rich Asians. It leads them to a point where Miko and Ben argue about the reactions it provokes. Miko is the film festival organizer and is ecstatic that the movie has received such a positive response from the audience. On the other hand, Ben is a failed film student having a hard time with his field and seems unimpressed with the movie, as he thinks it excessively focuses on appealing to the masses.

Ben is an arrogant and rude person, and Miko has had enough of it. He consistently derides things that he doesn’t find praiseworthy. He even publicly disrespects Miko in front of her friends in the film industry, and she can’t take it anymore. Therefore, Miko chooses to take a break from their relationship. Furthermore, she has been awarded a three-month internship with the Asian American Independent Film Institute internship in New York City. They have been constantly arguing with each other before things seriously go wrong between them.

Miko’s problem is not just that Ben doesn’t like the movie. She thinks the real issue is that he doesn’t comprehend the significance of the representation it provides for Asian Americans and the opportunities it creates, particularly for her as an aspiring Asian American filmmaker. Ben vents to his best friend Alice about it. However, she is preoccupied with her problems and has little to offer. Their relationship is also strained by small things, including the times when Miko would invite Ben to join her for bedtime, but he prefers to rewatch the same old movies.

Ben works at a time-worn and rundown movie theater, and a young blonde named Autumn has recently joined their team. It leads Miko to suspect that Ben is immediately love-struck with Autumn because she knows he prefers women with blonde hair and blue eyes. These things only make Miko more certain about her decision to leave. Ben wastes no time and instantly reaches out to Autumn, just as expected.

On the other hand, Alice, who is introduced as Ben’s best friend, is a lesbian and is currently dealing with family issues. She pretends that Ben is her boyfriend to satisfy her family and meet their expectations of her. But she is romantically involved with girls and not ready for a commitment. As soon as her new romantic partner starts becoming too clingy, she avoids the restaurant where Ben and she usually dine to prevent any encounters with her since she works there as a waitress.

Ben and Autumn’s compatibility is so low. They have little in common and belong to entirely different life interests and experiences. He realizes it’s not working out and starts to miss and long for Miko. At the end of the day, Alice feels sorry for him and decides to take him to a pride party, hoping that he can relax and stop dwelling on his love life. But the night takes an unexpected turn when he meets Sasha, who also happens to be blonde. Sasha also has a romantic interest in Ben, and they immediately become compatible.

A still from Shortcomings (2023).
A still from Shortcomings (2023).

Sasha had previously been in a relationship with a woman. While everything seems to fall into place for Ben, Sasha’s ex tries to reach out to her and come back together. Sasha was previously unsure about getting back together, so she decided to try things with Ben. The theater where Ben is working has also announced that it will stop operating and close, leaving Ben with nothing for himself. Because of Ben’s current situation, he’s now spending a lot of time constantly stalking Miko. He has tried calling her multiple times, but Miko appears uninterested and ignores him.

In the midst of this chaos, Alice also gets kicked out of school for accidentally hurting another girl. Instead of isolating herself, she takes advantage of the situation and decides to move to New York. Ben is alone, experiencing deep depression, and being hard on himself. He tries to start writing, but his head is blank. After a while, he makes the decision to follow to New York, where he’ll stay with Alice to unwind. Ben once again experiences a day filled with disappointment; he thinks he can’t do anything correctly.

He finds out that Alice has moved forward in her life, and now she’s in a serious relationship with a woman named Meredith. Alice finally makes decisions independently when she finds the perfect partner for her. Ben makes a scene, and his actions result in a mess between them. He believes she might not like him because he thinks he’s not very likable. Ben realizes that his offensive humor isn’t working and helping him anymore. Several days into his visit to New York, he decides to do something significant for Miko.

Shortcomings (2023) Movie Ending, Explained:

Does he end up getting back together with Miko?

Ben witnesses one of the biggest plot twists of his life: Miko has moved on and is now in a relationship with a man who appears Caucasian, works as a fashion designer, is fluent in Japanese, and practices Tai Chi. It turns out that she never really attended any internships. Ben is left heartbroken. He also comes to the realization that this was Miko’s plan all along. Subsequently, Ben and Meredith have an intense confrontation about his alleged hypocrisy and his belief that society perceives relationships between Asian men and white women differently than those between Asian women and white men.

Moreover, Ben acts disrespectfully toward Meredith. Then he abruptly realizes that the pictures of Miko showcased in the fashion designer’s store were taken in their own bed at home. Eventually, Ben decides to confront Miko, and her new boyfriend respectfully steps aside to allow them some privacy to talk. He vents all his frustration on her, and she does the same. Miko opens up about how Ben consistently overlooks his own problems and instead blames them on others.

She experienced distress in their relationship that made her realize she couldn’t take it anymore because of his incessant complaints, all the while keeping her tightly bound to him in the most unhealthy way. When she decided to move away and relocate to New York, it filled her with a sense of release, even though it meant being dishonest with Ben and everyone about the internship. Miko is aware that she shouldn’t have left Ben like that, even if there wasn’t physical cheating involved. Her decision to leave Ben may not have involved physical cheating, but it did damage their trust. However, Ben never changes his ways, making Miko realize she doesn’t have to endure and tolerate his behavior anymore.

How did Ben come to his moment of realization?

Ben and Miko reach the end of their relationship this time. When Ben goes to Meredith’s house, he overhears Alice and Meredith arguing, and it’s because of him. He realizes that he is always at fault, and in that moment, he finally sees how his actions really affect everything. He asks for forgiveness when he faces Meredith. That day happens to be Meredith’s birthday, and Alice has chosen to leave school and relocate to New York to be with Meredith. She used to fear commitment, but Meredith made her feel she could be herself without feeling judged, and she realized she was the one. Although Ben wants to have her back, he recognizes how important it is for Alice and eventually chooses to let go of her.

How do ‘Shortcomings’ end?

Before he finally leaves, he wants to meet Miko for the last time. But he sees how happy she is with her new boyfriend. Moreover, he doesn’t have the audacity to ruin their moment. He steps away peacefully, waving the white flag on all fronts. During his return flight, he observes an older woman shedding tears at the end of Miko’s film. For the first time, he appreciates how meaningful the work really is.

The scene shifts to a montage showcasing the successful lives of various people while Alice’s voice message to Ben plays. She lets him know how proud she is of him. Alice also believes that he has the ability to conquer the challenges before him. Back in his hometown, Ben sits by the stunning ocean while wearing a smile on his face. Although Ben’s life appears to be in disarray, he finally acknowledges his shortcomings by the film’s end.

Read More: Rotting in the Sun (2023) Movie Ending Explained: Does Jordan manage to find Sebastian in the end?

Shortcomings (2023) Movie Trailer

Shortcomings (2023) Movie Links: IMDb, Rotten Tomatoes
Shortcomings (2023) Movie Cast: Justin H. Min, Sherry Cola, Ally Maki
Where to watch Shortcomings
Ashlee Manalang

Ashlee is fervently devoted to exploring the intricacies of films in great detail. She’s also psyched about discussing economics.