‘A Banquet’ Ending Explained: What happens to Holly?

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?

It could be suggested that Betsey developed an eating disorder after experiencing trauma when 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, perhaps 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 stumbles 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 starts to glow and we can assume that she disintegrates and becomes a star, as Holly suggested. Or did she?

Did she become a star?  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

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11 thoughts on “‘A Banquet’ Ending Explained: What happens to Holly?”

  1. Life is a virtual reality. Betsey died of natural causes (starvation) within this reality. Her “game” was over and she got to go back to where we come here from. She knew this would happen for us all because her deep despair sparked her own enlightened state. Her question of “what’s the point to all of this?” was answered in her enlightened state. There isn’t one other than love. She chose to end her game. Then her mother became so stricken with grief and despair at the end that she too sparked her own enlightenment. She realized that it’s not that serious and it’s over quick. Then we go back to the beautiful place we came here from and the game is over. Her mission was to show a mothers love and she succeeded.

  2. I just wasted precious time watching this movie. I will say something that had me thinking( watch out! Ha!) was the story the grandmother told about how she caught Betsey rehearsing what she was going to do to be able to sleep with her grandparents. At the end of the movie Betsey apologies for causing trouble for her mom and sister and saying she was the special one. Also screaming she lied and needed an ambulance. Anorexia will kill you for sure. Not sure about the glowing but though. I give this movie a 0.

  3. I believe It is to show that she loved her daughter so much that she believed her completely to the point it made it happen.the truth is in the eye of the beholder.we set our intention to make somethin happen.if u believe with all your hart u r chosen for something when you die that’s we’re your conciounce will take you when your no longer attached to the physical realm through a body.

  4. So yes,this type of ending is so very frustrating and not a cool way to get people to think for themselves. It diminishes the weight of the story for me at least.
    I do however,believe in the supernatural. I wonder if it was anorexia how did Betsey live for six whole months without eating? I’d like to think that in the end things do matter and they’re not just over.

  5. The father commits suicide by drinking bleach, not from choking on his food. Kind of an important detail to miss…

  6. Hey, yea, the ending was very frustrating. I wasn’t overly satisfied with the film as a whole as it was kinda abstract. Thanks for responding – I’m sure more people share your view!

  7. Wow, what a…word I can’t say cause I’ll get deleted and censored if I do by the you know what’s and the you know who’s, Ruth Paxton is.

    What kind of person/director ends their film the way she did, which is really irritating and really irritates people, you know what I’m talking about. Not a open ending or a could be over, could be continued type of ending, you know for a sequel to be made, but that just ambiguous, no for sure answer, leave you guessing ending. Then, when the director is asked about it, they say, “At the end, it doesn’t really matter, just that it’s over.” What? Are you serious? It’s human nature to want closure and an ending and to just do something like that? That’s just yeah you know what I wanna say here.

  8. Ok, you need to go fix the two paragraphs that starts with, “Shortly after, Betsey dies and the grief-stricken Holly runs out into the street.” First off, Holly didn’t run out into the street so much as walk/stumble out to the street. She doesn’t burn up and disintegrate. She more starts to kind of glow then screen white washes out. You never see her burning or disintegrating.

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