Windfall Plot Synopsis
The unlikely trio are thrust into a hostage situation when CEO and Wife make a spontaneous trip to their secluded vacation home with the worst possible timing and interrupt a crime. Reluctant to use violence, Nobody initially barricades the pair in their sauna to give himself a head start before they can raise the alarm. But the stakes become significantly higher after the thief spots a security camera that has recorded his every move.
He demands five-hundred-thousand dollars cash- enough to go on the run and start a new life- to which CEO agrees. The only problem? It’ll be twenty-four hours before his assistant drops off the loot. That’s enough time for resentments to fester, alliances strain, and blood spill. And they call vacations relaxing?
Why does Wife kill Nobody and CEO?
Windfall keeps audiences guessing as to the fates of its three main characters right until the final moments, which see “Wife” bludgeon “Nobody” (i.e. the burglar) in the head with a heavy sculpture before shooting her husband (“CEO)”. It’s brutally clear from the visceral scene that she has killed both men. But why?
That’s a question perhaps even writer and director Charlie McDowell, who claims to have deliberately ended things ambiguously, can’t answer.
“The idea of it being open-ended and everyone have different ideas is what I want,” McDowell told Variety.
With that in mind, here are three of the most plausible explanations for Wife’s murderous motive and Windfall’s ending.
Did Wife kill for money?
Seizing the opportunity to inherit a fortune, Wife killed CEO with Nobody’s gun (she returns it to the dead man’s hand) so that police would believe the millionaire died in a robbery gone wrong. She will claim to have killed Nobody after the shooting in a clearly justifiable case of self-defence.
A running theme throughout Windfall is the temptation and corrupting nature of wealth. In other words, people doing messed up things for money.
The clearest example is Nobody’s attempted robbery and extortion of CEO. Nobody is not portrayed as a necessarily bad guy and is clearly uncomfortable hurting others (consider his devastation after the gardener’s accidental death.) But the lure of CEO’s fortune proves too much for even him to resist.
CEO himself is equally as compromised. Not only has a life of privilege turned him into an arrogant, entitled jerk, but it’s established he made this fortune through an algorithm that encourages corporate greed at the expense of workers’ jobs.
Finally, Wife sacrificed her values for money when she married CEO. It’s revealed that CEO paid off her student loans after beginning their relationship and though she now works alongside her husband as head of their charity, we can safely assume her luxurious lifestyle is not entirely self-made.
In exchange, Wife gave up her independence and parts of her identity as symbolised by the removal of what CEO calls “the ugliest tattoo I’ve ever seen” (a rose that Wife secretly still loved.)
Tellingly, right before Wife commences her attacks she is shown looking down toward her ankle- the site of the faded former tattoo.
Perhaps this reminder of what her lifestyle has already cost- and how much more she stands to gain- is what tips Wife over the edge.
Did Wife kill as an act of revenge?
Wife killed CEO in an act of revenge, or simply to eliminate him from her life, because of his mistreatment of her over the course of their marriage. Again, Nobody is collateral damage to help cover up the crime.
This theory obviously overlaps somewhat. Wife kills Nobody to stage a “robbery gone wrong.” She’s also still likely to inherit CEO’s billions. But this scenario assumes the money was not Wife’s main motive. Instead, it was a crime of passion in response to years of resentment against her domineering husband. And if you’ve seen the film, you probably wanted to shoot this insufferable character too.
Though the couple initially present a united front when shocked by a home invasion, it’s not long before cracks appear between the newlyweds, and we witness the dysfunctional state of their relationship.
As the situation unfolds with CEO trying to wrestle back control at every opportunity, Wife grows increasingly frustrated with her husband, pleading with him to cooperate multiple times before finally snapping. Seeing through his hypocrisy in claiming he “only wants to protect her,” Wife accuses CEO of looking out for himself and risking her own safety in the process.
It’s all downhill from there. At several points Wife displays barely controlled disgust at not only her husband’s actions, but who he is as a person. “Not everyone who needs help is a freeloader,” the formerly broke college graduate pointedly interjects in response to one of CEO’s particularly vile diatribes against the “lazy fucking loafers and freeloaders” of the world.
Lastly, it’s revealed that Wife has secretly been taking birth control medication to thwart her husband’s plan for a baby. Consciously or not, it seems Wife was preparing for a life without CEO long before the robbery. And when the opportunity arose, she took it with both hands.
Did Wife just snap and go insane?
The final theory could point at Wife just “snapping.” It’s entirely possible that Wife, overwhelmed and momentarily unhinged by the stress of the situation, simply snapped and killed both men on impulse. Hey- we all have our moments.
Interestingly, this theory was endorsed by the filmmaker himself in a recent interview.
“In terms of how I view the ending,” McDowell revealed, “It’s like her killing him is also just, “Shut … up!” you know?
Shut up indeed. Perhaps the answer is there is no answer. Or perhaps there are multiple, and Wife’s actions were a combination of all three motives.
Whatever the case, both CEO and Nobody paid the price for underestimating the mild-mannered, pretty young Wife. It’s always the quiet ones, isn’t it?
Read More: Windfall Movie Review
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