Memories are a fascinating thing in our lives. First love, the first trip with family, or the first time coming with the feeling of growing up – all are part of our deep conscience that permeates throughout our lives. We go through various phases, and in them, these moments always help us grow. These moments are not only personal to oneself but also a collective for our collective existence. Movies can be considered as a medium that can fully portray these collective memories and give us the opportunity to rethink and reevaluate these moments, not just sink into nostalgia. The Adults (2023) serves the same purpose by giving a reality check to our protagonists. And for one hour and thirty-one minutes, going through various key plot points, the film can’t fully clarify its core motif. It has the necessary emotional baggage but falters in permeating equally in its running length, and as a result, it digresses from its central message.
I would like to talk about the movie in detail. So, readers who haven’t watched the film are warned to proceed further from this point, as it is going to be filled with spoilers.
The Adults (2023) Movie Summary and Plot Synopsis:
After an absence of three years, Eric makes his way from his residence in Portland to New York to reconnect with his sisters. The passing of their mother had cast a shadow over the relationships between Eric and his two sisters, Rachel and Maggie, causing gradual deterioration over time.
Perhaps this was the underlying reason for Eric’s extended absence; he struggled to find the emotional strength to reunite with his sisters. However, upon his arrival, tensions within the family escalate, particularly between Eric and Rachel. Rachel’s recent heartbreak, stemming from her unfaithful boyfriend, has left her in a perpetually sour mood, regardless of the circumstances. Even the presence of her brother in the ancestral home, a place passed down by their mother, fails to brighten her demeanor.
In stark contrast, there’s Maggie, carefree and light-hearted, who left college due to a lack of interest. Her disposition stands in stark contrast to her moody sister, and she never hesitates to embrace Eric warmly during his visits.
Despite these dynamics, underlying issues exist in the family. Rachel has been grappling with panic attacks for a considerable period, although she hasn’t disclosed the root cause of her struggles.
Meanwhile, Eric reconnects with Dennis, an old friend from high school, who arrives at his doorstep one evening and invites him for a drink. Regrettably, Dennis declines the invitation due to a pre-planned documentary screening. Eric reminisces about their days playing poker with friends during their school years and eagerly anticipates reuniting the group for another round.
However, during the reunion, Eric’s poker skills prove dismal, leading to substantial losses and an embarrassing scene. Frustration mounts as Eric grapples with a sense of helplessness and a dearth of positivity in his life, leaving him feeling like a peripheral figure both in his personal life and within his own story.
Eric takes his sisters on outings to various places, including the zoo and a bowling alley. It becomes apparent that the three siblings have developed a habit of communicating using cartoon voices. This peculiar mode of expression serves as a way for them to convey their thoughts and feelings, often going unsaid behind their seemingly cheerful facade.
Initially planning a short stay at Rachel’s place, Eric decides to prolong his visit indefinitely, choosing to reside in the ancestral home instead. Rachel, however, takes issue with this decision, feeling that Eric’s presence has overstayed its welcome. She intentionally employs a loud vacuum cleaner near him to provoke her brother.
Eric eventually reaches a breaking point, leading to a confrontation where Rachel finally reveals her pent-up grievances. It emerges that Eric had departed after their mother’s passing, leaving Rachel to shoulder the burdens of house upkeep and financial responsibilities on her own, despite her struggles and panic attacks.
Rachel later attempts to share her unique form of communication with a coworker at her workplace, who fails to grasp its significance. This experience solidifies Rachel’s realization that only her family can truly understand her, and she learns to value their bond over others’. Meanwhile, Eric’s fortune shifts, and he begins to excel in poker games. He is invited to participate in a high-stakes poker game in a dubious setting.
Driven by his need for a dopamine rush, he agrees, emerging victorious with a substantial cash prize. However, his triumph is short-lived as he falls victim to a robbery by a fellow player who had lost to him. Stranded and helpless, Eric’s inability to stand up for himself highlights his vulnerability and reluctance to confront injustice.
The Adults (2023) Movie Ending Explained:
Do Eric, Rachel, and Maggie rekindle their relationship?
After this unfortunate incident, Eric returns home to attend a party. He finds his two sisters in the backyard. Already in a bad mood, Rachel and Eric start their usual fight between them in cartoon voices. Maggie gets irritated by their respective behaviors and tells them to shut up. But their fight escalates, and all the bitterness they have been harboring for these years is set free.
After their argument, we see Rachel and Maggie dancing to the music. Soon, Eric joins them, and the three dance with joy. Later that night, Eric goes to Rachel’s bedside and tells her that he always loves her, but he doesn’t tell her that earlier. Rachel also reconciles with her brother, and they both hug each other.
The next morning, Eric is scheduled to leave for Portland, but he hasn’t gotten up from his bed. At the breakfast table, Rachel and Maggie sit and wait for their brother to come, leading to an ambiguous ending of their relationship status.
What Does the End of The Adults (2023) mean?
The Adults is a film that brings us the sensibility of family. At a time when everyone is too busy to be themselves and living and sharing together every moment is scarce, the film feels like a teleportation of our present to the past, when everything was simple and filled with innocence. When sharing and living were not just constrained in a personal but in a collective way.
The film tries to shed light on this topic but not in a tear-jerking nostalgic way. Its representation is subtle and filled with symbolism. Though it falters in many places and digresses from half of its core messaging, it cannot be denied that it succeeds in the other half.
For example, the reconciliation scene between the lead pairs is not typically Hollywoodish. Rather, it somehow seems cold, with no music in the background or tearful monologues. But still, it has a sense of warmth in the internalization of the emotions between the two characters, Rachel and Eric.
This subtlety can be focused on the ending scene of the film as well, where the two sisters are waiting at the breakfast table for their brother to come. It leads to an ambiguity, where we wonder about the current relationship status of the three. Is their reconciliation temporary? Or is it a new beginning for them? We wonder about this question. Perhaps it is the purpose of the director, who wants to showcase the fragility of relationships in every real way possible, and thus it has to end like this.