What Happened at the End of the Movie Cordelia??

What Happened at the End of the Movie Cordelia??
Reader Rating0 Votes

What Happened at the End of the Movie Cordelia?? Maybe we can walk through the movie together – and see if we can pick up the clues and the details that the screenplay and the movie left for us and try and figure it out? Because the movie Cordelia is a maze of possibilities, mostly various confused possibilities. If you haven’t heard of the movie – you are forgiven. It came out in 2019 and I only just found out about it. So, we are discovering it together.

But if you are still on the fence as to whether you should watch it or not – and the fact that I am mentioning it doesn’t immediately get you in your car and carry you at speed to the nearest Blockbuster – let me try and sell you on it. First off, it’s not a historical period piece. You can be forgiven for thinking so. I did. It basically tells the story of Cordelia, and her internal struggles in the aftermath of some horrible experience that happened on the London Underground. Is she going mad? Or is she being targeted? Enter Frank – he’s here to save the day – or is he? See. Watch it.

Spoiler Filled Cordelia Walkthrough

The movie opens with a nightmare on the underground. While traveling on the train, the lights flicker and go out. It’s a moment of obvious dread and fear for Cordelia. She notices a man who will reoccur for her throughout the film… her nightmares… her thoughts. In the first few minutes, the audience is told that something terrible happened on the tube, but we don’t find out exactly what it was until the final act of the film. But, whatever it was, we know it’s had a really enormous impact on her life.

Regardless, whatever it was that happened to Cordelia, we can see that it has left her a recluse, worried about life, and unable to sleep. Cordelia is a twin and, in her sister Caroline, we can see what her life might have been like if she hadn’t been cratered by this horrible event in her life. (I’m betting that most people don’t catch the fact that both characters are played by Antonia Campbell-Hughes (who is also the co-author of the screenplay). I only noticed it by the extraordinary intentionality in the blocking. I’m walking over to this spot and turning. I’m now going to this spot sort of acting. But otherwise I wouldn’t have guessed that it was the same person in both roles.) Caroline is here visiting in order to try and help her sister through a rough patch. The two women argue about how Cordelia is only barely holding on – and Cordelia counters that it might have been better if she had died. It’d be better if she didn’t exist at all.

Cut to Frank. The neighbor in their apartment complex that is constantly playing his cello. Cordelia loves his playing, but it’s clear that the rest of the people in the apartment building do not. Frank insinuates himself into Cordelia’s life through a “chance” encounter at the local cafe. And it happens about the same time that Caroline meets a new boyfriend (Joel Fry), and they are heading off to Bruges, leaving Cordelia to her own insanities. Hrm.

Frank is immediately taken with Cordelia – and he invites her out to a bar, where he gets a call and has to escape out the back. What? Worse, Cordelia finds a picture of both herself and her sister on his phone. Something isn’t adding up about Frank. Also, she quickly learns he actually doesn’t perform his cello for the public anymore. He doesn’t perform at all. He’s been lying about that. Oh, also? He even has photos of the twins hanging on his walls including one of them in the bathtub that he took through the floorboards. This is getting to a bah-woogah level of weird. And at this point I was voting that Cordelia should just shoot this guy. I mean, I’m not wrong.

Also – strangely, Cordelia is regularly getting phone calls with no one there. Ceaseless, endless phone calls. (Who still has a land line anymore? Do you? Holy cow. I haven’t had a phone on a wall for almost 20 years now.) But, it’s unclear who the person is. When the person on the other end starts asking questions about Frank, the audience is CERTAIN it’s not Frank, right? Because – weird. But, hold on a second, Frank is nothing if not WEIRD, so why do we think it’s not Frank again? “Why did you close your window curtains?” “Is Frank playing the cello for her?” “Is Frank now your boyfriend?” …… Eventually, Cordelia traces the call back to Frank’s phone (do you remember when you had to pay like a dollar per trace back by dialing that number to see who it was? If you remember that – you are now, OFFICIALLY, old.) But Cordelia isn’t going to give up on Frank any time soon – why is that? Because the two of them are now officially afraid of the world together. Damaged people love damaged people.

Basically agoraphobics, they both stay inside as much as possible. “You’re half living… you’re the same as me.” Cordelia tells Frank. Regardless, Frank awaits her, she bathes, and then she spies the fateful photos that he took of her and her sister. She heads out, he tells her that she’s tormented by guilt, and then this strikes a chord in her… and she stabs him. Wait, WHAT? Why? Why didn’t she just run? We’ll get to that. But her response? “It’s not my fault that I’m here.” What is that all about? More in a second, and then she flees back to her apartment, and she cowers in the dark… and as the movie ends, Frank has completely disappeared. She can’t find him? Really? And then, the phone rings.

Let’s Talk About Cordelia’s Trauma

The 7/7 bombings. Cordelia finally gives the film viewer something to go on here. She admits to Frank that she was on the Tube during a bombing. She only survived the attack because she had given her seat up to a man on the train. The man she saw on the train, over and over again. She even admits that she once was a successful actress… but the explosion unsettled her to the point that she wasn’t able to live her old life any more. She assumed that she had been fated to die… not this other guy. She somehow out maneuvered the hooded cloak and scythe guy.

Possible Ways to Read the Movie Cordelia:

The Literal Theory for Explaining Cordelia –

Many of you prefer the simplest and the most concrete answer possible. If that’s you, then this is the theory for you. Cordelia was in a bombing, she narrowly survived the attack. But fate was on her side… gee whiz, luck. She doesn’t see it that way though… she is overcome by it, and she becomes basically a shut in. Her sister tries to help her. But then there’s Frank. He sees her coming and going – is something of a pervert, and is completely fascinated with Cordelia and her sister. He stalks them both, takes photos, and tries his best to corner them. Cordelia connects with him, ultimately realizes he’s a creep, and kills him. BUT THE PHONE CALL AT THE END MAN! The phone call is random dumb luck. It was Frank on the line all this time.

The Madness of Guilt Theory –

This one might be my favorite and most obvious idea. What if Cordelia, overwhelmed by the bombing and the guilt of it all – splinters. Cordelia did not exist prior to the bombing. In fact, it was Caroline that was in the Tube when it exploded, and out walked Caroline and also Cordelia. The fact that Cordelia is this second person’s name is too coincidental; she also is playing this part in the play, King Lear later on. It’s too cute a connection.

Regardless, Caroline is dating, Cordelia is a recluse. Caroline is trying to convince herself to leave the apartment, to get out, to return to life. But Cordelia can’t even imagine it. It is the picture of a schizophrenicly sick person. This sick person dreams up a liaison, Frank. And eventually she kills this sick manifestation of herself. And as the movie ends, the phone rings. But what does the phone ringing signify? The ringing of the phone (the tolling of the bell) signifies that these sick manifestations of herself are just going to continue. Killing them off will do her no good. They are just going to keep coming.

The King Lear Interpretation Theory –

For those of you unfamiliar with the Shakespearean play, King Lear, it’s a mental mind job that makes this movie look like preschool playtime. But the basic idea, is that King Lear is Britain’s king, and he is aging. He will step down and will ask his three daughters a test question… how much do you love me. Because that’s a well adjusted thing to ask your children. Goneril and Regan flatter their father. But Cordelia? She refuses to say how much she loves him because she has no words to describe just how much. Seems like a valid sort of response, but it’s misunderstood by her father, and he flips out. Disowns his daughter. Cordelia heads off to France, retrieves an army, and comes back to defend the country. Long story, craziness ensues, and Cordelia’s army is beaten. And then she’s executed.

But stepping back a second, King Lear is both about political authority as well as it is about family. Lear gave away control of his kingdom to his two evil daughters – not to the one daughter who loved him. And as a result, he flips his kingdom into the fire. Why? Because he was paranoid, and a total freakazoid. He didn’t trust his family. He didn’t trust his kingdom. Etc., etc. He destroyed himself from the inside out. Now, think about Cordelia for a second. She is absolutely decimating herself through her own various psychoses. Is Frank actually stalking her, and hunting her? Does Frank even exist? Is Cordelia just melting down, like her play name-sake father? She is well intentioned in the play, but she goes the wrong direction and everything she does blows up in her face. Is there something there?

But who cares about all that?…

What Happened at the End of the Movie Cordelia?? – Is Frank Still Alive?

Cordelia popped – out of the blue – and she stabs Frank to death. Death? As the movie ends, Frank has gotten away… and she is hunting for him, finds hand prints, and tracks. But she fails to find him. And, as the phone rings, the movie ends. We don’t hear a voice. So we aren’t certain who is calling. The ambiguity of the ending tells us a few things:

  • Cordelia’s insanity isn’t done. She thought killing Frank would help her turn the corner, but it only dragged her deeper into it.
  • Better yet, Frank’s disappearance accentuates the fact that she won’t ever be able to escape her past.

Could it be that Frank is just a symbol of yet another trauma that Cordelia, even women in general, face day in and day out? Could it be that Frank doesn’t even exist? Maybe. Regardless, even if he does, he is still alive, and will be coming for Cordelia, justifiably.

Edited by: CY