The Swerve Movie Ending Explained - Taylor Holmes inc.

The Swerve Movie Ending Explained

The Swerve Movie Ending Explained
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The Swerve Movie Ending Explained… or attempted to be explained… or tangentially attempted to possibly be marginally explained. Yeah, that title is way way too long, even though more accurate. The Swerve is definitely not for the faint of heart. This is a movie that might just unmoor you a bit if you aren’t too careful. Why? Mainly because this thing hits way too close to home for many. Regardless, it’s an amazing film, with just the most fantastic eye-opening epiphanies available to those that are looking for them. If you are interested, and haven’t seen it yet, you can find The Swerve right here. Here’s a trailer if you still aren’t convinced.

The Swerve Walkthrough

Please make certain that you watch The Swerve prior to continuing to read. Not doing so will invoke carpenter ants assembling underneath your chair and slowly devouring you completely. Honest. It’ll happen. It’s the rule of nature. In fact, here are all the places you can watch The Swerve online right now:

I absolutely refuse to walk through The Swerve like it’s a list of talking points that the movie hits one after the other. Because it just isn’t. The movie is a modern day car crash masterpiece and the sum of the total is way better than each of its commensurate parts. The movie tells the story of just about any other modern day mother, housewife, and teacher. The gristle of this movie is so realistic that it unhinged me greatly to watch Holly (Azura Skye) devolve so quickly. It is really obvious to anyone that is watching that the whole contraption that is The Swerve will eventually collapse under its own weight.

Let’s start with this particular observation: Holly is surprisingly under appreciated. Her husband (Bryce Pinkham) is self-involved to a fault – constantly worrying about his job, his vying for a promotion, and the chaos of his life. Her two sons both treat her like the help. And, to her sister as well, it’s obvious she’s at best an annoyance. Worse, her husband messes around with every woman at his grocery store whether Holly is there or isn’t. And Holly’s sister, Claudia (played by Ashley Bell), works overtime to paint Holly out to be the penultimate annoyance on the planet. When in fact, it is Claudia who has been the one that has spent her life going in and out of rehab so often Holly has lost track. Regardless, we know from the flash forward opening that something inside of Holly is about to snap, and when it does, we can feel it under the tendril-thin skin of this movie that it won’t go well for anyone involved once it does.

The simple math of this movie doesn’t add up to its ending. But there is something deeper going on in Holly’s life that seems tragic in the extreme. Here it’s a dismissed apple pie that was fussed in the extreme. There it’s a child who refuses to help. And over there? That’s a mouse that has taken up residence in her kitchen. Oh, and did I mention that her mother thinks her simple in the extreme? And her husband is most definitely sleeping with every single woman at his grocery store. She knows this, she isn’t an absolute idiot. Then there is the relationship with a boy in her classroom. Each one the beginning of a swirling vortex that will rip this house off its foundations and send it flying.

The film reminds me of a female version of the Michael Douglas film, Falling Down where a fairly normal business man collapses under an avalanche of microcosmic grievances. Here, too, our Holly is aggrieved on every single side. She is cut by her annoyed children, she is lacerated by her husband, lanced by her sister and parents, she bled by everyone around her, without pause. And eventually Holly is pushed to the edge, where she begins acting out in horrible ways. Until she decides to make the mostly horrifically beautiful pie the world has ever seen. A pie filled with rat poison.

A Contemplation on The Swerve

The really complicated part about the movie The Swerve is the fact that this movie is today…it’s right now. Civility is dead. Selfishness abounds. And literally everyone is dying from a million grievances caused by selfishness and ennui. How have we arrived in this place of near infinite boredom and absolute egotism? Holly is a stand-in for a million mothers and women who are not seen anymore. She is a prototype of the sort of selfless individual that gives and gives until she cannot give anymore.

So it only makes perfect sense that it would be the pie that begins her acceleration into the abyss. But it was the mouse that caused the pie to come to be. Why? Because it was the rat poison that gave her the idea to make her pièce de résistance… the rat poison laced apple pie. Holly is done with the world. Done with the microcosmic cuts that hurt so horribly. And so she crafts this perfect pie, but this time she fills it full of poison. (A better metaphor for Holly’s life I cannot imagine. Beautiful on the outside, deadly on the inside.) Perfectly though, the pie doesn’t kill her. But it kills both her sons…and it may have killed her sister.

Grief ridden at the death of her children, she takes a gun, and goes to hunt down her husband at the grocery store. Walks past the student she was having an affair with, and heads towards the back where she witnessed her husband’s dalliances. Intercepted by her husband, who, immediately recognizes something is horribly wrong – interesting how far it has to go for him to recognize this – begins begging for his life. He understands he’s about to die. But it isn’t Holly’s last wish to kill her husband, but rather to inflict a lifetime of pain on him to kill herself in front of him. This seems like the perfect poetic ending of such an aggrieved life.

It is the mouse, the mouse(!), that illustrates the best vision for what actually happened here. A mouse and an infinite number of microcosmic cuts that poisoned Holly to the core. Remember, Holly was bitten by this mouse. And this so disturbed her that she thought she had rabies. It so disturbed her that she couldn’t sleep. Why? Because Holly was looking for a cause to the deeper pain she felt, and she misplaced her larger life discordance on this imposter the mouse. So it makes sense that the one thing she solved over the course of her life (the killing of the mouse using the rat poison) would also be her go to for solving her larger issues.

The really sad thing going on here – the really heartbreaking bit – is that Holly just wanted to be seen. Which explains the relationship with the student. He is the only person in the movie that ever really saw her. In fact, he was so transfixed with her that he sketched her constantly. He was smitten with her. Thought her brilliant. And figured, correctly, that her husband didn’t deserve her. But the student is the one place that I was disappointed in the film. This movie isn’t “A Teacher,” or a movie about the rape of a student by a teacher. I mean, it had that in it… but that wasn’t the larger point. The larger point for the film seemed to be a discussion about how horrible we can be to ourselves. But when she began this horrible relationship with her student it made it something else entirely.

The Swerve Movie Being “Seen”

There is a subliminal, nay near-liminal (suprasubliminal?), layer to this movie that obsesses with being seen. Holly is a super-thin waif who has spent her life unseen and completely unnoticed. Totally overlooked. How do we know? Oh, I don’t know…maybe because Holly literally says so to her husband on more than one occasion. Notice the moment when she and Paul (the student) are having sex in the back of her minivan. She thrusts open the sliding door and screams “LOOK AT ME – LOOK AT ME!!!” towards her husband and the women that are with him. But there is no one there!

What is happening here? Holly, so incredibly desperate to be seen by really anyone – especially her husband – imagines Rob coming out of the bowling alley. She literally makes this encounter up in her mind because she is that desperate for attention. It’s a destructive act if it were real, but it’s wholly mentally unstable act that is so absent reality that our dear Holly should really be put somewhere safe. It speaks to the larger problem that Holly is having…and that is she 100% irrelevant to literally everyone in her life. And this will not stand. Holly will be seen.

The Swerve Movie Ending Explained

So if The Swerve wasn’t about how horrible we can be to ourselves, then what is it really about? Well, Holly wasn’t the innocent bystander she thought herself to be, that is the first take away we should make about The Swerve. Her kids were horrible, and broken. Her husband was horrible and broken. Her sister? Horrible and broken. Parents? Yup, them too. And Holly? She was one of the most broken of the crew, though we empathized with her the most out of the whole cast of characters. Think about it… she raped a minor, murdered her sons, and possibly murdered her sister. Her husband? He was a serial-adulterer. That much is clear. He was myopically selfish. BUT! Compared to his homicidal partner? He looked like an angel at the end!

If The Swerve isn’t about just how unjustly aggrieved Holly is, then what is it about? Well, I think we are all Holly. Sure, I’m positive this movie resounds with mothers over many others. But we are all Holly. We can all be horrifically aggrieved. And we all have a choice to make…this choice isn’t suicide or murder/suicide. We can choose to talk about these grievances, or not. Holly? She is beset on all sides. Yet she never tells anyone what is happening or how useless and helpless she feels. This builds in her head until she believes all manner of craziness.

Think about the title of the film. “The Swerve.” What is that referring to? While with her family she dreams that she leaves the party and heads home by herself. On the way home, a couple of guys in a car pull along side of her and begin yelling at her. What does she do? She swerves, and causes the driver of the other car to crash into a tree, killing both guys in the car. Did that happen? Maybe, but not with her. She probably read about the guys dying in the paper and internalized their story. This story then bubbled into her dreams, and the dream was so real she assumed it really happened. But she never left the house. We know because her kids laughed at her for drooling on herself while she slept. None of this happened. And Holly chose not to say anything about it. About as close as she got to talking to someone was going to the doctor because she believed herself to have rabies. Otherwise she says nothing to anyone. Not even her student. She is a walled off city within a walled off moat and drawn drawbridge.

We are social beings. God made us to live in community and for us to interact with others. To allow others to carry the weight that we all have on our shoulders. Don’t believe me? Here is a metric-butt-ton of scholastic articles talking about the dire effects that come from solitary confinement! And yet, here we watch as Holly is sequestered in the worst kind of solitary confinement. Here is Kapsalis talking about his inspiration:

I drew on mythology and tragedies in literature to give narrative shape and tension to Holly’s psychological desolation and longing. Through her, what I felt emerge was a view of a society that is just as alienated from itself as it is from the fragile reality through which it sleepwalks. We go on about our daily lives, our routines, often unaware (or willfully ignorant?) that the people around us can break at any moment.

Similar to the female protagonists of the classic tragedies, Holly is a dutiful wife and mother, underappreciated and overlooked for her efforts. But as she goes on, and as we settle into her world, the cracks in her already damaged psyche give way.

Many artists inspired me along the way. Filmmakers like Nicolas Roeg, Roman Polanski, Alfred Hitchcock and Ingmar Bergman. Photographers William Eggleston and Gregory Crewdson. Playwrights Harold Pinter and Edward Albee. Poets Dante and Shakespeare. But in a way, it was the ancient Greeks that proved to be the most inspirational.

Did you notice the kids reading from Dante’s Inferno in class?? (For those of you that forgot your 9th grade reading assignments in The Inferno – Dante Alighieri tells the story of a guided tour of hell. He visits each of the 9 rings of hell where we meet worse and worse offenders until we find satan, frozen in the earth.) This is hell. We all live in an aloof and singularly alone experience, that is a sort of hell. Here we can see that Kapsalis is talking about an insular society that has no idea just how hurting and damaged the people walking next to them are. Add to that a Greek tragedian mindset, and voila…you have The Swerve. I hated this movie. And I loved this movie. It is a warning sign, a blinking red light signaling the bridge is out ahead. But for some odd reason, we’ve taken this warning sign as a license to hit the gas pedal?? Huh.

And finally, did you hear Holly, as she was dying… what she said to Rob? “You’re finally looking at me.” Holly made the world look at her squarely. Do we like what we see? There might be way too much Holly in all of us to really like this reality at all.

Edited by: CY