‘Sanctuary’ (2023) Film Ending, Explained: What Happens Between Hal And Rebecca?


Directed by Zachary Wigon, Neon’s 2023 film Sanctuary tells the story of a man who was burdened by the expectations of his father and, while trying to prove his worth, forgot who he was in reality. He would have probably lived like that his entire life, but fortunately, a girl came into his life and brought about a change in his perceptions. She gave him the courage to face his own feelings and take a stand for himself in front of others. It was a very unlikely relationship that changed everything for Hal Porterfield. So, let’s find out what Rebecca and Hal are up to and what conclusion they come to at the end of Sanctuary.

Spoilers Alert

What Issues Did Hal Have With His Father?

Rebecca entered Hal’s house at the beginning of Sanctuary, who was the soon to be CEO of the Porterfield group of hotels and at first, it seemed like she was his attorney. But soon, we realized that she was a professional who provided intimate services to her clients. Hal was probably the wealthiest client she had, and she used to come to his place so often that they had now developed a close bond. They indulged in intimate moments, ate food, talked, and spent some nice time together.

In the beginning, Rebecca was the one who used to lead the show, but slowly, as Hal started getting confident, he took the initiative, and Rebecca used to do whatever he asked. Hal liked enacting situations, and he created an entire script with dialogues that he and Rebecca used to perform whenever they met. In all these situations, he played his alter ego, someone he aspired to become in life. In his narratives, Hal was the star; everybody had a crush on him; he was a ladies man; he was an extrovert who liked socializing and mingling with people; he had a perfect work-life balance; his company was doing great; and he had his entire life and future already sorted out. But the reality was in stark contrast with his character’s life. He had no clue what a CEO was expected to do. He didn’t even have the basic knowledge that it was mandatory for a public company to have a board of directors. In fact, Rebecca knew more about how to run a company than he did. But then, the question that came to our mind was: why had he trapped himself like this when he didn’t want to become the CEO of the Porterfield Group of Hotels?

Hal, since his childhood, has been trying to be like his father, but he was never even able to come close to the man. Obviously, no child willingly pushes himself to be someone he is not unless and until he is told by his elders that this is the way one should be. Hal’s father, Phil Porterfield, had created the entire empire from scratch, and we believe he must have been quite authoritarian in his approach when it came to Hal. He never appreciated Hal, and no matter what the boy did, he always fell short of expectations. Hal never had the freedom to express himself, and it felt like since the time he gained consciousness, he was just pretending and portraying himself as a person who had similar taste and sensibilities as his father did. Hal wanted to live a simple life, and he was fine if he didn’t achieve legendary status like his father. But the thing was, he probably never had the courage to confront his father, and over a period of time, he started believing that if he wasn’t able to fill in the shoes, then his life wouldn’t be worth it. Nobody showed interest in knowing the real him except Rebecca. She had been meeting him for such a long time that she understood the conflicts that lay inside him, and she probably knew him better than he himself did.

‘Sanctuary’ Ending Explained: What Happens Between Hal And Rebecca?

Rebecca was always handsomely paid by Hal, and Hal was more than grateful to her for being so sincere in her job and giving the best service one could ask for. It was quite evident from the way he looked at Rebecca that their relationship went beyond just the client and service provider. Hal realized that because he was going to become a CEO and his life would be under public security, he should tidy up his act and stop meeting Rebecca. It was difficult for him to imagine a life where he didn’t meet her, but in order to prove to his mother that he could fill in the shoes of his father and do his job meticulously, he decided to take that step. Hal gave an expensive watch to Rebecca as a parting gift, who was a bit angry at him for making the decision not to meet henceforth without even consulting her. We realized at this moment in Sanctuary that Rebecca, too, had feelings for Hal, and she wished that this equation of theirs kept on going like this.

Rebecca stomped out of the house, but she just couldn’t accept the fact that she was never going to see Hal again. Rebecca changed her mind, and she came back to Hal’s house and told him that she had a video of them getting intimate, and if Hal didn’t give half of what he got when he took over the position of CEO, she would leak that video. One thing led to another, and Rebecca, for once, let go of her no-contact policy and got quite intimate with Hal. Hal agreed to give her the amount she asked for, but just as she was about to leave, he realized that he needed to have some collateral with him so that the next time Rebecca wasn’t able to blackmail him. Rebecca got a bit annoyed by what he asked of her because firstly she was not happy that he had decided to not see her and secondly, she thought that he would show a little more trust in her.

Rebecca was in love with Hal, but he was not ready to embrace his own feelings, which frustrated her. She wanted to bring Hal out of the mess he was stuck in, and she knew that there was no easy way to do that. Both of them once again went back to Hal’s house, where he tied Rebecca to a pole on the bed. Rebecca asked him to enact one last situation with her for old times’ sake. She said that she would play his father, and he would have to play himself. Hal found it a bit strange at first, but then he agreed. Rebecca started speaking in a manner she presumed Hal’s father must have spoken. Hal resisted but then there was an outburst of emotions, and he just couldn’t control what he felt. It was truly magical, as Rebecca now had access to his most vulnerable side, and anything she said from thereon was going to have an impact on him.

The ending of Sanctuary brought a cathartic moment for Hal, who realized that he had to stop living this life of pretentiousness and, for once, accept who he was, even if his own people didn’t appreciate it. Rebecca made him say the words that he didn’t need to be like his father, and Hal felt like somebody had lifted a huge weight off his shoulder. Hal accepted that he was not meant to lead his father’s business, and it struck him that the position needed somebody like Rebecca, who was not only talented but also had knowledge about its basic functioning. Hal expressed that he loved Rebecca and that he wanted her to stay in his life forever. Hal was so sure about Rebecca being the CEO that he was ready to initiate a process known as management buyout if that was what was needed. Sanctuary ended on a happy note, where our protagonist developed the confidence to tell people that he was not going to live his life according to the expectations of others, and he decided to be with the woman who had brought about that change in his personality.

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Sushrut Gopesh
Sushrut Gopesh
I came to Mumbai to bring characters to life. I like to dwell in the cinematic world and ponder over philosophical thoughts. I believe in the kind of cinema that not necessarily makes you laugh or cry but moves something inside you.

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