Sundown Ending Explained: What has happened to Neil?

Sundown Plot Synopsis

If you have seen Sundown, Michel Franco’s existentialist drama which was released in 2021, you may have been left with a few questions. It’s a puzzling movie and one that isn’t necessarily easy to understand.

Tim Roth stars as Neil Bennet, a middle-aged man who, as the movie begins, is seen staring into the ocean. It is clear from this opening scene that Neil is not a happy chappie but the reasons behind his discontent are hazy at best.

Where is Neil at the start of the movie?

Neil is vacationing with his sister Alice and her two children, Colin and Alexa, in Acapulco. With the exception of Neil, everybody seems to be having a good time. But then tragedy strikes back home and after receiving this upsetting news, Alice tells everyone to pack their bags so they can catch the first plane back to London.

When they get to the airport, Neil discovers that he has lost his passport. He tells his family to go on without him and promises to follow on the next flight after he has found the missing document.

Does Neil find his passport?

No, and for one very good reason: it wasn’t missing in the first place. So, what is going on?

At the early stage of the movie, we can’t be entirely sure. For some reason, Neil has decided to stay behind in Acapulco. After leaving his family at the airport, he books himself into another hotel, becomes friendly with Jorge, a local taxi driver, and begins a romantic relationship with a woman named Berenice.

When Alice calls him to find out when he will be returning home, he tells her that it won’t be too long. However, this is likely a lie as it would appear that Neil has no intention of leaving the Mexican beach resort.

Why does Neil stay in Acapulco?

It could be assumed that Neil has a good life due to the meat processing business that has made the Bennet family very wealthy. But as we all know, money isn’t the root of all happiness.

During the early part of the movie, it would appear that Neil stays in Acapulco to find some kind of fulfilment in his empty life. He might be rich but this clearly hasn’t made him happy. This could be the reason why he has decided to stick around but an event at the end of the movie opens up another possibility.

Later, Alice returns to Acapulco to look for Neil and when she finds him, she confronts her brother about his decision to abandon the family during their difficult time. Neil isn’t able to give a convincing reason why he decided to stay behind, which is as frustrating for Alice as it is for the viewer.

Does Alice convince Neil to come home?

Neil decides not to go home. After discussing the family business with Alice, he decides to hand over his assets and inheritance to her and signs a document in the presence of his lawyer to finalize this.

On her way back to the airport, Alice’s car is attacked and she is shot and killed. One of the shooters is Jorge, the taxi driver that Neil befriended, and when the police investigate, they assume Neil may have hired these criminals to kill his sister.

Neil is arrested and imprisoned for his suspected involvement but is later released.

Did Neil plot his sister’s death?

We can’t really say for sure but as Neil is already very wealthy, it is unclear why he would. There would be little need to kill her for financial reasons and as he seemingly had no other motivation to want her dead, it is doubtful that he would pay to have her killed.

It is likely that Jorge and his men opened fire on the car so they could kidnap Alice for ransom. Jorge presumably heard Neil talking on the phone about his family fortune and this likely gave him the reason to go after her. If this is the case, Alice’s death was probably accidental.

Ultimately, it is left to the viewer to decide as, like the scene at the end of the movie, the reason behind Alice’s death is left open to interpretation.

What happens to Neil?

After the police release Neil, he continues to spend more time with Berenice. He also meets with Colin and Alexa and gives them the rights to the family business.

A few days later, he has a vision of a dead pig and then falls down the stairs of his apartment.

Berenice takes him to the hospital where she discovers he has brain cancer.

Neil then leaves Berenice at the hospital and starts to walk the streets of Mexico alone.

The movie ends with an empty chair near the beach and Neil’s abandoned clothes scattered around it. This obviously leaves us with one question…

Where is Neil?

We don’t know. However, it is likely that Neil has killed himself after abandoning his clothes and walking into the sea. His brain cancer was probably the reason for this as it may be that he saw little future for himself. This might also be the reason why he decided to live out his last few days in Acapulco, not only to enjoy his final few moments on earth but to shield Alice and the rest of his family from his impending death.

The title of the movie also clues us into this. Just as the sun goes down as night falls, so too does our life when the darkness of death beckons.

Neil is distant throughout much of the movie and the reason for this is probably the crushing inevitability that his life, like the sun, is about to fade.

This is our interpretation of the ending but if you have answers of your own, please share your thoughts by leaving us a comment below!


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22 thoughts on “Sundown Ending Explained: What has happened to Neil?”

  1. I think the whole point of the movie was Neil was allergic to bacon and that’s how his family got their fortune.

  2. Thanks for your thoughts Lori. Yes, it is a weird movie. A good one though, despite its abstract nature.Thanks for getting in touch.


  3. I gotta say that was one weird movie. But my guess is that was his sister and niece and nephew and not his kids.He knew along he had cancer and wanted to keep it from his family not to upset them.He wanted to live his last days out enjoying himself with out a pity party from his family. He truly wanted his sister and her children to have the inheritance because he really did love them and knew he wouldn’t need it.Im not quite sure of the end though wether he truly committed suicide or is just going to live out the rest of his days alone.

  4. If he knew he was dying why ask for more money ? No one to leave it to? Dont you think when he went into a state even the girlfriend , pigs etc were his brain and dementia ? Just a few thoughts

  5. It is obvious that Neil had everything planed from the mothers death all the way to his sisters death. Hence him and Alice were the sole benefices of the family fourtune, he gives everything to Alice and then have her killed. Remeber she asks him about seeing the kids at the signing he says yes.. So he knew once Alice was out the picture the kids would have to come there to sign documents, and that’s when he knew he would see them. Also through out the movie on several occasions you see him, the taxi driver, and gun men together. Everything was set up at the first meet and greet, he then left the money for the hit in his room hence his luggage getting stolen. As for his relationship with Bernierce they were alreay a couple, he met her long before the vacation. You have to remember he is a billionaire so being decrete is of importance so he kept her a secret, but after he separated from his family, losing his passport he went to her, making it seem like they had just met. But as time went on they were very open not caring who saw them, they were already in love. That’s why when she found out about his cancer she was devasted. Because she had not had much time with him. It’s sad money is the root to all evil. Lastly if you paid attion to the detail at the signings he only received monthly pay outs of 10,000, but at the signing with the kids he asked for 100,000 up front. He knew they wouldn’t be thinking straight. This all tthe way around is just messed up! So sad‼️

  6. Thanks for your thoughts Dave. The film is quite baffling, perhaps needlessly so at times. I still thought the film was okay but it could have been clearer.


  7. The movie is so vague, including the relationship between Alice and Neil, since at first, it appeared to look like they were a couple, and that both Alexa and Colin are also Neil’s children as well. The reason being is because if Neil is capable to “lie” about his own passport, then he is also capable to lie about his relationship with Alice. Where was Neil’s introduction about Berenice to Alice? Neil had every opportunity to explain to Alice through the phone he met a nice lady- and he did not, he just ignores her calls completely as if she never existed. If Neil and Alice were brother sister then how come Berenice was not introduced to anyone? And why the stoic reaction as soon as he found out about Jorge’s involvement to Alice’s demise? Maybe he was involve in Alice’s death so that he can receive a bigger pension, as he was present when a murder happened at the beach. And what is more baffling is the fact that my first impression was that it was Alice’s mother who had died, since it is only natural Neil would care less if it’s the in-laws or the wife’s side of the family who had passed. That is part of the reason why she came back to see him. The fact that she mention kids upon her argument with him, ‘Don’t you want to see your kids?”, or something along the lines of that! Anyways, I can’t really recommend a movie that asks more questions than it answers?

  8. I strong believe that Neil just want to avoid confrontation with death and his mother’s death was the turning point. He just decided to take control of his life in his way. Nobody in his family knew about his sickness and he wants to keep that way. The end clarifies his intentions; he doesn’t want anybody that he loves to share his grief, so he decides to abandon Berenices and find a secluded place to live the rest of his days.

  9. When I heard his lawyer mention his “condition” I thought he was talking about autism, which would explain why he had no emotional connection to any drama that was going on around him, then when it was discovered that his cancer had spread to his brain, then I felt that the cancer was a reason for a complete personality change. Altogether a very thought-provking movie. It reminded me of L’etranger by Albert Camus, about a man who went to prison because he didn’t cry at his mother’s funeral.

  10. The point you all missed is that he’s obviously banging his sister and those are his kids. The guilt is what the movie is about his cancer is of no importance because he feels he deserves it. The kids know all the seedy details

  11. Hey, thanks for your comment. That’s really helpful to know – I hadn’t come across the term ‘sundowning’ before. It does change my perception of the story. Thanks so much!

  12. First, I think there are some insightful theories in this post what was going on with Neil. I think Neil did have some (maybe subconscious) guilt about the family business, and what the fate was for these animals. In fact, the movie starts out with him looking at the fish on the boat gasping for air. The whole ‘pig’ thing confused me until I read the previous comments. I thought there really was a pig in the mens shower, lol…

  13. It is possible that you are missing something. Which makes the movie a completely different watch.

    “Sundowning”. This is the term where people with dementia get confused when the sun sets and into the night. They can lose speech, go wandering.

    He knew he had tumours. The visions he had were part of that. It’s not clear whether the rest of the family knew or not. Sometimes I think they did. Other times not, and just knew he wasn’t happy.

    But often the times he’s just standing there, he’s sundowning. He meets Berenice in effect that state. Other times he’s just zoned out. It’s the slow horror and visions we are not yet seeing. The time of the day of the scenes come with this.

    I realised this after the movie had finished, when the titles were rolling. Perhaps I will rewatch it soon.

  14. These commentators may have missed some things, Neil wasn’t married, he knew about his cancer all along as noted by the Dr in Mexico, the pigs play a huge part as the family fortune is from slaughtering them—hence guilt. So the empty chair is a suicide walk into the ocean. Not a huge mystery.

  15. It’s all about swimming with the pigs, a new and extravagant Mexican excursion. Also, the lawyer knew about Neil’s brain cancer because he mentioned early in the movie about Neil’s ‘condition’.

  16. I don’t think he knew he was dying from the beginning, although that is an interesting thought and might want to make you want to live the rest of your life without worries on a beach. I think he was simply unhappy with his life and marriage, and didn’t care about money. But life has a funny and cruel way of surprising you when things seem to be going “well”- so surprise you have brain cancer now! Too bad your end has come.

  17. Thanks for your thoughts. The pigs were an unusual inclusion but more clarity as to their meaning would have been helpful. I guess we are supposed to make up our own mind.

  18. When his sister returns to Mexico, I think, why doesn’t she ask if he is depressed? I think the whole movie would have been fine without the pigs or knowing what the business actually was. That knowledge and the dead pigs adds another layer, but that layer isn’t leaned into enough to warrant it being there.

  19. Je pense qu’il s’est senti étouffé. Mais je ne sais pas si cela est lié à ses actions dans le film. Point intéressant cependant.

  20. Il y a une image au début du film, sur des poissons en train de s’asphixlifier.. peut-être s’est-il toujours senti comme cela. Pas seulement à ce moment de sa vie. J’ai eu envie de le voir très noir. Et se penser qu il aurait pu être l organisateur. Pour une fois. C est toujours la soeur qui decide. C zst quand même étrange cette série de morts. Je vais trop loin?

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