‘Basma’ Ending Explained & Film Summary: What Happens To Adly And Basma?


The 2024 film from the Middle East produced by Netflix, Saudi Arabia’s Basma, is quite different from the usual productions of the region. The plot follows a young woman named Basma, who returns home from her life as a student in Los Angeles to find out about family secrets that she had no idea about. For the most part, Basma deals with issues of mental health and the public perception of patients in these cases, but surprisingly, it does not include any religious intervention. Basma’s family is clearly not like any of the common masses in the country, and the film does not hide this fact either. Overall, Basma is successful in conveying the message and emotion that it wants and can make for a nice watch.

Spoiler Alert

What is the film about?

Basma is set sometime soon after the COVID pandemic was brought under control, at a time when Saudi Arabians are finally allowed to fly home from foreign countries. The protagonist of the tale, a young woman named Basma, rejoices at this news and immediately makes a plan to visit her family and home in Jeddah for the upcoming holiday celebrations. Basma was a PhD scholar living in Los Angeles at the time, and the global pandemic has kept her away from Saudi Arabia for the entirety of the past two years. As final preparation for her return home, she gets her hair cut short, donates the hair to a charity for cancer patients, and finalizes her new look. Basma returns to her home nation and is greeted by her elder brother, Waleed, who drives her back to their family house. Her family is extremely welcoming and warm to her, as Basma meets up with Waleed’s wife and two kids, as well as their mother, all of whom share the same house. However, the protagonist is confused about the absence of her father, Adly, as he is nowhere to be seen. When she confronts the others, it is finally revealed that her parents had separated some two months earlier and now live in different houses.

It is evident that Basma had been quite close to her father, and so she dearly misses the man. Getting to know that he has settled in their old family house, she immediately goes to meet him but is deterred by the lack of response. Although Adly can be seen inside the apartment, he chooses not to open the door for his daughter and does not respond at all. Concerned and heartbroken, Basma returns to her mother’s house and attends a grand Eid celebration that is held in the family. She evidently hails from an extremely rich Saudi Arabian family that owns a successful hospital business, among other such trades. The eldest uncle, Adel, who is also currently the head of the family, does not have a very high regard for his younger brother, Adly, and so when the latter arrives for the party as well, his time is short-lived. Basma does not miss out on the chance to meet her father, though, and after a couple of hours at his house, she decides to spend the rest of her vacation with her mentally ill father.

Why had Basma’s parents separated?

As soon as Adly is introduced as a character, things seem a bit off about him. While the man has holed himself up all alone in his old apartment, he has also put up a sheet of newspaper all over the windows in order to ensure that nobody from outside can look in. He is also seen covering up the air vents with paper, for he is sure that these outlets have too many germs in them. Adly is a doctor by profession, although he does not practice anymore, and so he still holds on to the cautionary beliefs that anyone in the medical profession can be expected to have. But Adly seems too concerned about the presence of germs all around him, and it is possible that the devastating effects of the coronavirus are what push his fears beyond a healthy limit. He also has some gastroenterological issues, for which he has to get checked by a doctor at regular intervals, but Adly is simply not interested in these checkups. He feels patronized when a stand-in doctor tries to explain to him what jaundice is, and when he asks questions regarding his lifestyle habits, Adly runs out of the clinic by faking a fit of coughs.

All these matters confuse Basma, and especially us, the audiences, for what exactly is wrong with Adly remains quite unclear. But as the film’s plot progresses, it becomes clear that the man does not often think straight and has a number of unwarranted fears and beliefs, although whether he has any serious mental illness, to its full extent, can be debatable. Adly has a hard time trusting people and situations, and his fear of germs is not very new either. He often looks at everyday household objects, such as a TV remote and even a fork from a restaurant, through a microscope to check whether they have too many germs. When the germs are not a concern, then he believes that people want to get hold of his fingerprints and make use of them in some unlawful manner. In fact, his reasoning behind covering up the windows and glass doors with sheets of newspaper is that he firmly believes that someone residing on a nearby tree keeps a lookout on him and his house.

Basma is sure that her father suffers from paranoid delusions, which make him think and act the way that he does. She tries to find out more about the illness on the internet but is unable to do so, at least in a capacity to help her father. In the latter half of Basma, the protagonist learns that her father was always of this eccentric nature, and it was probably part of a mental condition in him since his youth. His wife, meaning Basma’s mother, Manal, had found out about this after her marriage and had wanted to leave him right away, but instead chose to raise his kids first. It was after both Waleed and Basma were grown adults with their own lives that she finally divorced her husband. Incidentally, Adly did not have a good relationship with the son, Waleed, either, as he never understood the latter’s obsession with puppets. Waleed seems to have built a profession out of his puppets, and even then, Adly had torn apart one of his oldest toys out of rage only a few months earlier. Naturally, the puppet was no longer a toy for adult Waleed, but it held a lot of significance for his young son, Suleiman. This incident made Waleed decide to stay away from his father as well, although he still regularly sends him food, and Adly was truly separated from his family.

How does Basma’s perception of her parents change?

Basma is a woman who genuinely wants to be good and helpful to people around her, and this is evident from the very beginning of the film. Although a woman at the hospital ridicules her act of donating her hair for cancer patients, she defends herself and then also finds extreme joy in a letter that thanks her for the donation. Therefore, when she finds out about the fact that her father has been left behind by the family, Basma grows determined to help him out. She believes that living with Adly will be the best way to help him, and so she moves in with him. Initially, Basma is quite angry at her family, especially her mother and brother, for technically abandoning her father and also for never informing her about what was wrong with Adly. However, she gradually learns that everyone in the family has to live through their own struggles, and she understands the complex dynamics of the entire situation.

“Basma” is all about humans standing by their close ones no matter how bad situations get, and this spirit is embodied through the character of the protagonist. She learns through her experiences that Adly is often a very tough and insensitive person to be with, particularly because of his nature, but she still decides to help and support him by simply being there. Adly very firmly believes that everyone around him, including his family members, are pretentious people who all want to hurt him, and he eventually turns against his caring daughter as well. Nonetheless, Basma stays strong in her principle of never leaving anyone behind, and she is finally able to learn more about the others in her family as well. During this time, the protagonist also has to prepare for her PhD viva, which is upcoming, and also navigate the spaces of friendship and love with her childhood friend, Malik. By the end, she realizes that her mother had to struggle through a lot as well, only for the sake of providing her with a healthy childhood, and this unites the two women as well. Her anger and frustration at the beginning disappear quite naturally, and Basma is seen sharing a happy conversation with Manal.

What happens to Basma and Adly?

Basma has to take some time off her family dynamics as she has to prepare for the PhD viva, and when it is ultimately held over a video call, she uses her recent experiences to speak more about herself. This works in her favor, and the viva examination goes rather well. She had recently fallen out with her father after she tried to bring back some normalcy in his life by ripping out the newspapers stuck on the windows. This act had enraged Adly, and he had angrily thrown out his daughter’s clothes, clearly telling her that she was no longer welcome at his house. However, Basma understands her father’s paranoia and still makes an effort to help him out by speaking to her mother about him.

In Basma‘s ending, Manal is seen visiting her ex-husband after she has realized that she can definitely still be a friend to him, even after their divorce. Adly is also visibly happy to see her, probably just pleased that someone is finally visiting him at his house. Before leaving Jeddah, Basma also has a heartfelt conversation with Malik, whom she has genuine feelings for as well. But no relationship had budded between them simply because Malik had chosen the wrong words of the proposal for her, and that mistake is now corrected. Thus, when she flies back to Los Angeles, Basma and Malik are seemingly a couple, and they have made vows to reunite with each other soon. Back at her LA apartment, the protagonist realizes that the paranoia that her father is haunted by is also present in her, at least in a small and not-so-harmful way. Basma feels for a second that someone might be keeping an eye on her from the outside or that numerous germs are trying to attack her through the air vents, and she realizes that everyone’s perception of reality can very well be different. Although Adly’s obsession and fears had pushed him to a sorry state with his family members, Basma can still live with hers if she can limit them. Basma ends with a quote by Matt Haig, which perfectly covers the theme of the film about how the understanding of normal and abnormal is subjective to each individual.

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Sourya Sur Roy
Sourya Sur Roy
Sourya keeps an avid interest in all sorts of films, history, sports, videogames and everything related to New Media. Holding a Master of Arts degree in Film Studies, he is currently working as a teacher of Film Studies at a private school and also remotely as a Research Assistant and Translator on a postdoctoral project at UdK Berlin.

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