A Banquet Plot Synopsis
A Banquet is not an easy film to understand. On the surface, it is an examination of grief as the protagonists of this story, Holly, and her two daughters, Betsey and Isabelle, have to deal with the aftermath of their terminally ill husband/father’s death. They each deal with their grief in their own ways, but Betsey’s way of coping seems to be linked to her refusal to eat anything.
However, the film also deals with apocalyptic themes and these seem to tie into the ending of the movie and the fate of Holly.
So, what is this movie about? And what does happen to Holly? There are no clear answers but let’s take a closer look.
Why does Betsey refuse to eat?
Betsey witnessed her father’s death but despite his terminal illness, he didn’t die of natural causes. Instead, he committed suicide and he did this by voluntarily choking on the food that had been prepared for him.
This could be why Betsey becomes resistant to eating. She attempts to swallow some of the food that her mother gives to her but this causes her to choke, just like her father did when he died.
It might be that she has developed an eating disorder after watching her father die. However, she seemingly doesn’t lose any weight, even after 6 months of not eating, so it is could be that her issue is more than psychological.
Another theory behind her reason not to eat is a little more unbelievable.
When at a party with some of her friends, Betsey breaks away from the group and wanders into the woods. While here, she witnesses a blood-red moon in the sky and this seems to have a strange effect on her. She returns to the party in a dazed state and in some kind of trance. Her friends call Holly for help and after a short while, she comes to collect Betsey and take her home.
It is the day after this event that Betsey refuses to eat. It would seem that it has something to do with whatever vision she got caught up in when looking at the moon. She starts to talk about the end of the world, people becoming stars, and how she has become enlightened. She talks about her body and how it is in service to a higher power, and she suggests Holly might have something to do with the apocalyptic events that are due to take place.
As she seems to believe her body is no longer her own, this could be her reason for not eating. Later in the film, it would appear that she has become possessed but we don’t quite know what could have taken over her.
What does the moon have to do with the apocalypse?
In the Bible, there are a number of prophecies that point to the ‘end times.’ One of these is the sight of a blood-red moon.
Revelation 6:12-14 reads:
“The sun turned black like sackcloth made of goat hair, the whole moon turned blood red, and the stars in the sky fell to earth, as figs drop from a fig tree when shaken by a strong wind.”
Another verse comes from Joel 2:29-32, which reads:
“Even on my servants, both men and women, I will pour out my Spirit in those days. I will show wonders in the heavens and on the earth, blood and fire and billows of smoke. The sun will be turned to darkness and the moon to blood before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the Lord.”
Betsey’s apocalyptic warnings could be tied into these verses but before you start to panic the next time you see a red moon, be assured that it’s also a natural phenomenon and not necessarily a harbinger of doom!
What happens to Holly at the end of the film?
Towards the end of the film, Holly realises Betsey has been manipulating the weighing scales, presumably to hide the fact that she really had been losing weight.
She contemplates calling for an ambulance for her daughter but then tells Betsey that she “believes her.’ We can assume this is in reference to the supernatural stories that Betsey had previously relayed about higher powers, the end of the world, and people becoming stars.
Shortly after, Betsey dies and the grief-stricken Holly runs out into the street. As choral music plays in the background, Holly falls to her knees and we see what looks like stars in her eyes. She then burns up and disintegrates.
So, what happened to Holly? Did she become a star like Betsey suggested? Did the end of the world happen, with Holly disintegrating just like everybody else? Or was Holly seeing things, perhaps because of the grief that had overtaken her?
If you’re looking for a direct answer, we’re afraid there isn’t one. It would appear that the director Ruth Paxton intended the film to end on an ambiguous note, so it’s up to you to decide if Holly’s final moments are to do with the end of the world or the end of her sanity.
As Paxton says in this interview with Signal Horizon, “At the end, it doesn’t really matter, just that it’s over.”
This is quite frustrating we know as we are left with an inconclusive ending.
Still, if you do see this film, be sure to share your own suggestions for what happened to Holly, especially if you can make sense of this complicated and bewildering story.
Read More: A Banquet Movie Review