‘Memory’ (2023) Ending Explained & Film Summary: Do Sylvia And Saul End Up Together?


Directed by Michel Franco, Memory brings together a social worker with a traumatic past and a man suffering from the early onset of dementia. The significance of memory, as the title of the film suggests, is crucial to understanding our protagonists. The memories of her pre-teen years continued to haunt Sylvia, while Saul struggled to recall recent events. The film begins with Sylvia celebrating her 13th anniversary of being sober at her AA meeting. Motherhood impacted Sylvia’s life to a great extent, and she brought along her daughter, Anna, to the meeting. Anna was Sylvia’s reason to not give up on life. She lived a routine existence and preferred to keep her engagement with the outside world to a minimum. Sylvia heavily relied on her home security system to protect her and Anna from any danger that the outside world could pose. Sylvia’s life took a turn when a man followed her back home from her school reunion party.

Spoiler Alert

Was there a past connection between Sylvia and Saul?

Sylvia’s social life was restricted to her AA group, and when her sister, Olivia, suggested that she join her for the school reunion party, she thought of giving it a go. Anything beyond her routine seemed to be an unnecessary risk that Sylvia was not willing to take. Interacting with old schoolmates was not her idea of a perfect evening. She rushed out of the party when a man sat next to her and smiled. We were left to wonder if he was her jilted lover whom she was keen on avoiding. She took quick steps and tried to stay way ahead of him, but he managed to follow her to her house. Sylvia swiftly turned on her security system and watched the man through her window soak in the pouring rain. She was concerned when she saw him lying outside her apartment building the next morning. Strangely, the man did not seem to recognize her, and she contacted his brother for help. Saul was suffering from dementia. He remembered his past but had a tough time recollecting new information.

Sylvia later visited Saul at his home, and he apologized for the inconvenience. They went on a walk, and Sylvia tried to refresh his memory. He was convinced that he had never met her before, and he did not follow her to her home intentionally. But Sylvia did not believe him. Saul was in the same grade as Bob, the man who raped her when she was 12. He often brought his friends along to assault her, and she remembered Saul being a part of the group. Sylvia did not meet Saul to check on him, but to remind him what a beast of a man he was. She believed Saul deserved to suffer, and she left with his contact information card. As much as she hated him for his past actions, she did not find it in her to walk away, knowing that he would once again struggle to find his way back home.

Saul’s brother and niece hoped for Sylvia to become his care provider, but the past continued to torment her, making it difficult for her to agree to the proposition. Olivia later informed Sylvia that Saul was not a part of Bob’s school gang. The year he enrolled was when Sylvia was pulled out of Woodbury School, and there was no chance that they had ever met before. She headed straight to Saul’s house to apologize for mistaking him for someone else. Sylvia decided to take the job at Saul’s, and the man she assumed to be her assaulter turned out to truly care for her.

Why did Sylvia and Saul take their relationship forward?

Saul struggled to follow films, but he stared at the television screen simply because Sylvia enjoyed watching them. A beautiful companionship started to develop between them. Sylvia took care of his day-to-day activities, and she enjoyed spending time with him. He often spoke of his late wife and their time together, memories that he continued to cherish. The pain they carried within themselves, in a way, brought them closer together. One morning, when Saul’s niece, Sara, returned home, she found Sylvia and Saul in a proximate position. Sylvia tried to explain herself, but she was embarrassed by the incident. She did not think it was appropriate to continue working there after she developed feelings for him. Saul missed Sylvia and stepped out of his house all alone to find his way to her workplace. They shared a passionate kiss, and Saul decided to spend the rest of the day at her apartment.

His brother, Isaac, did not approve of their relationship because he doubted Sylvia’s intentions. Saul chose to stay the night at her apartment, and the next morning, he took Sylvia to his favorite restaurant for lunch. Saul soon found out that his brother had blocked his bank account. He later stopped by his house to collect his belongings and threatened to kick Isaac out of his house if he failed to unblock his account. As a result of his condition, Isaac was Saul’s guardian, and he had control over his finances. Either Isaac was genuinely concerned about a random woman using his brother’s condition to her advantage, or he was afraid of losing control over him. Either way, Isaac never allowed Saul and Sylvia a chance to prove that they were capable of taking care of each other.

Why did Sylvia detest her mother?

Sylvia was extremely protective of Anna. She was afraid of her daughter living through the same harrowing experience that she once had. Anna knew that her mother was speaking from experience, but at times, she, too, craved freedom. She wanted to make mistakes and attend parties like her friends did. She was the only one in school who did not have a boyfriend because her mother never gave her the space to develop a romantic relationship. At Olivia’s, she could connect with her cousins, who were about the same age. She also met her grandmother for the first time there. Sylvia did not keep in touch with her mother, and naturally, Anna was never introduced to her.

Samantha continued to blame her daughter for her misery. She believed Sylvia lied about the assaults because she had no control over herself. Samantha failed as a mother, but she never held herself responsible. One morning, when Sylvia and Saul went over to Olivia’s to bring Anna home, she was startled to see her mother there. Sylvia started to hyperventilate when Samantha confronted her about being an ungrateful daughter. She begged Olivia to tell their mother what she had seen as a little girl. Samantha rubbished Sylvia’s allegation about her father raping her at the tender age of eight. Samantha continued to gaslight her, accusing her of always lying and bringing grief upon the family. She spoke highly of Olivia because she never caused trouble or spoke against her family. Olivia looked miserable; as a child, she was afraid of losing the affection of her mother, but as an adult, she could no longer watch her sister in pain. Olivia finally admitted that their father spent hours with Sylvia behind closed doors. She added that she was slapped the first time she told Samantha about it. Samantha chose to live in denial all her life, and she continued to do the same even after Olivia confessed to knowing about it her whole life.

Do Sylvia and Saul end up together?

After the heart-wrenching confrontation, Sylvia struggled to leave her bed. Saul comforted her to the best of his ability, and Anna provided her with constant support. Their love helped Sylvia cope with her trauma, and the next morning, she left for work. She received a call from the hospital informing her that Saul had been admitted. She rushed to the hospital to check on him, but Isaac refused to allow her to meet Saul. He was found lying unconscious on the street outside her house, and Isaac could not trust Sylvia to look after Saul. Within days, Saul had become an integral part of Sylvia’s life, and the sudden distance left her heartbroken. Anna could no longer watch her mother suffer. She had always wanted Sylvia to find someone special, and now that she did, Anna wanted to make sure that no one came between them.

During Memory‘s ending, Anna traveled to Saul’s house and met him there. A new nurse was assigned to look after him, and his cell phone was taken away from him. He confessed to Anna that he was miserable, and she proposed that they run away. They managed to escape from his house, and with Anna’s help, he was reunited with Sylvia.

Sylvia did not expect to see Saul at her apartment, and she was glad that her daughter went the extra mile to make sure that their love story had a happy ending. While Memory ends on a hopeful note, the couple will have their share of struggles to deal with. It is not just Saul’s condition that Sylvia has to cater to but also Isaac’s control over his life that will pose a threat to their well-being. But in the little that we have come to know about Saul, he has proved to be a persistent man, and maybe that will help the couple maneuver through all their difficulties. Saul’s fading memory is another reason why we can expect the couple to focus on the quality of time they spend together. For most of her life, she was afraid of making connections with strangers, and a chance encounter helped Sylvia overcome her fear. Sylvia and Saul’s paths crossed when they needed each other the most in their lives. They had settled for a routine existence, not knowing that there was something beautiful waiting to happen.

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Srijoni Rudra
Srijoni Rudra
Srijoni has worked as a film researcher on a government-sponsored project and is currently employed as a film studies teacher at a private institute. She holds a Master of Arts degree in Film Studies. Film History and feminist reading of cinema are her areas of interest.

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