Talk about how to make a sci-fi movie about the trauma of denial, and we have something as exemplary as “Deborah.” The thing that struck us the most about it is the packaging of the layers. If you look at it on the surface level, you find a group of adults who have not grown emotionally or intellectually since their high-school days and how their refusal to deal with their own emotions gets them stuck in a toxic loop of their own making. But there is a hidden commentary within that correlates to the state of the country and the world right now. Let us go through the storyline.
The Events Of The Weekend With Deborah
The movie starts with Nora staring off into space with an avocado in her hand. Ada asks her to throw it away if it’s gone bad, but she insists that she can just cut around the bad parts. The scene progresses to dinner, where a wine bottle accidentally slips out of Ada’s hands. It upsets her, and she asks Al to do something, to which he hesitantly agrees. He asks Deborah to rewind time so that the wine bottle is resurrected and unharmed. The rest of the group is unaware but feels a sense of Deja vu. As the night slowly progresses, we get a better insight into the characters of the friends. They have all known each other since high school, and Nora is slowly turning towards alcoholism to deal with the failures of her life. Chet still acts as a typical high school jock who makes juvenile jokes. Jim is a conservative, and Al is still in love with Nora despite being with Ada. All of them seem to be aware of Deborah’s capabilities and keep rewinding time to cover up any mistakes and outbursts. For example, during dinner, when Nora is confronted with her alcoholism, she gets brutal with her opinions about the rest of her friends, and Al and Ada are forced to rewind time to make things smooth again. The next day, when Jim is sitting together with the three women, he lets out his sexist and conservative side, which infuriates the women. However, Gaby keeps rewinding time with Deborah to make the situation normal. But the rewinds are not without consequences. For example, Jim finds that he has a mark on his hand from when he was stabbed there during one of the times Deborah rewinded time. He feels like a misfit in the group, as he is constantly bullied and made fun of. There is another person by the name of Frank. We will not be sure about his place in the group until much later. He acts like the clear-headed conscience, the only one who feels like an actual adult capable of dealing with his emotions.
During a discussion with Chet, he tries to bring up the latter’s nihilist attitude and wonders whether it is due to his disappointments in life. Chet peaked in high school, but since then, he has just been stuck in a dead-end job and is no longer the King of the Jungle, forcing him to turn to nihilism as a coping mechanism. When Chet hears this, he tries to strangle Frank, but Ada rewinds time and takes Frank out for a walk, where she reveals her frustrations with the group and their dysfunctional dynamic. In fact, she also reveals that she had taken a DNA test, which had shown that she was, in fact, Al’s sister, so now she doesn’t know what to make of her future.
When she goes back home, she witnesses Al trying to kiss Nora in the storeroom. She witnesses him rewind time and do the same thing twice, despite Nora pushing him away. With her memory cleared, Nora asks him to never do the time rewind thing when they are alone, and Al promises her. When they step outside, Ada is completely furious, and she reveals what Al has been doing in front of the whole group. Nora is furious and asks him about it when he tells her that he has worked hard his whole life, and she still wouldn’t consider him worthy of her. Nora lets him know that she isn’t an object to be won, but a deeper confrontation reveals that she is still living a fantasy where she is the main character in every setting and good things will happen for her. What follows is Al telling her that she never amounted to much in her life, making the others jump in to defend her. In the midst of it, Deborah refuses to follow orders anymore and will not rewind time.
‘Deborah’ Ending Explained: Does Deborah Rewind The Time?
With the friends finally forced to confront their feelings without the crutch of Deborah’s time rewinding, chaos breaks out, with people revealing their true nature and ready to do anything to make it win. They start attacking each other, and soon enough, they are all injured enough that they can’t move. But Nora and Frank are still conscious. She asks Deborah to rewind time 36 hours earlier. Deborah refuses, saying that the outcome would be the same. Frank asks Nora why she even wants this, and she replies that she wants a happy ending for the main character.
Frank asks Deborah to rewind, and she obliges. The scene cuts to Nora sitting with the avocado in her hand. The dialogue between her and Ada takes on another meaning here. Ada asks her to throw it away if it is rotten, but Nora prefers to cut out the bad parts and work with the good ones. It is an allegory about how, instead of leaving the toxicity behind, she is choosing to carve it out into her own fantasy of a happy ending. Deborah does rewind time, but the emotional residue, which is a metaphor for the untreated trauma that the characters are continuously inflicting on each other, is just piling up. Each and every one of the friends, since the beginning, have felt like they were acting out a role. There was a frustration that was right below the surface. It makes us think, how many times has this weekend repeated itself? Maybe Deborah wasn’t speculating that the outcome would be the same; she knew that from having witnessed it multiple times.
Final Thoughts: What Is The Deeper Message Of The Film?
The roles taken on by the friends in the movie are representative of the different facets of modern American society. Jim is the conservative side, Chet is the prevalent toxic masculinity, Ada is the American housewife who is still trying to make things work despite the redundancy, and Al is the promise of a new age who is unable to shake off the shadow of the regressive old America. And Nora is the American dream—the promise of progress and revolution, which fizzled out over time and remained just that, an exciting memory and a disappointing reality. Frank is the voice of reason, the one who can actually make a difference, but his voice is too timid to be heard at present. Deborah herself is the average American who keeps giving chances to all of them over and over again, despite knowing that she is being taken advantage of because they don’t want to do the labor of making better people out of themselves. They are all stuck in time, with no real progress and just trauma that keeps accumulating. It is constantly said that they all ‘peaked’ in high school. This could be a reference to the America of a few decades ago when the foundation of modern-day capitalism was laid by the tools of toxic masculinity and conservatism which are struggling to survive and thrive in today’s new age of woke consciousness.
The metaphor is fantastic and is somewhat reminiscent of the 2017 movie “Mother!” though it is far less grim while being way more effective. This is a movie that deserves to be watched, if for nothing else than the intelligence of its execution itself. Another movie like this that came out this year is “Meet Cute,” which follows a similar theme of using time travel to escape dealing with mental health issues. We love that this movie was made and are going to recommend it to everyone we know because this is what a genuine attempt at good filmmaking looks like.
“Deborah” is a 2022 Drama Comedy film directed by Noga Pnueli.