‘The Beast’ Ending Explained & 2023 Film Summary: Did Gabrielle And Louis End Up Together?


Loosely based on Henry James’ The Beast in the Jungle, Bertrand Bonello’s 2023 film, The Beast is an intriguing watch that blends unlikely genres. It is a period horror drama in addition to a sci-fi romance, and each timeline contributes to the theme at large. Starring Lea Seydoux and George MacKay as the protagonists, Gabrielle and Louis, The Beast revolves around a love story unfolding in 1910, 2014, and 2044, but unfortunately, the story always ends on a tragic note. Gabrielle learned about her connection with Louis in her past lives while going through a DNA purification procedure in 2044. The more she found out about her connection with Louis, the more she fell in love with him. Can they overcome their tragic curse? Or, will history repeat itself once again?

Spoiler Alert

What happened to Louis and Gabrielle in 1910?

There was an immediate connection between Louis and Gabrielle when they met at an exhibition party. It was not the first time that they met; six years ago in Naples at a dinner party, Louis remembered the conversation he had with Gabrielle. The unsettling fear that Gabrielle had once shared with Louis remained etched in his mind. He remembered Gabrielle describing an inescapable doom she feared would strike her life sooner or later. She was afraid it would destroy her and her loved ones. Gabrielle was surprised that she ever shared such a secret with a stranger, but she admitted that every word she had said then was true. Louis did not expect to see a wedding ring on Gabrielle’s finger because the first time they met, she made it very clear that she did not want to fall in love because she was afraid that the tragedy waiting to happen would affect her partner as well. But with time, she contained her fear and took the risk of marrying a man. Six years ago, Louis did not have the courage to promise Gabrielle that he would fight the beast (the unknown terror) for her, but now, as a grown man, he was ready to take the risk. Gabrielle was no longer afraid, but the prospect of having Louis by her side excited her.

Gabrielle and her husband owned a doll factory. Marriage brought her certain independence, and she was grateful to her husband for being by her side at a time when she felt hopeless. With Louis, it was different; she was not in control of the way she felt, and she struggled to describe their relationship. While discussing the Paris flood, Louis and Gabrielle’s conversation foreshadowed their tragic end as they casually stated that they would be happy to die in Paris. Their conversation at a cafe interestingly points to the downfall of humans. From the ones creating dolls to wanting to become dolls in the future, humans were ready to lose touch with who they were to compete with artificial intelligence. The lack of expression of dolls tragically became the ideal—a world where remaining neutral and pleasing everyone was the norm.

Louis was interested in finding out the root of Gabrielle’s fear. He wondered if it was her marriage or a natural disaster, but Gabrielle was convinced that it was neither of the two. A fortune teller suggested that a pigeon entering one’s house indicated that they or their loved ones might die, and Gabrielle once again spiraled down the path of anxiety and fear. Gabrielle enjoyed Louis’ company, but with him, the fear that she had managed to contain started to once again haunt her. One day, Gabrielle showed Louis around the doll factory. The sexual tension between Gabriel and Louis was palpable, yet Gabrielle never admitted that she was in love with Louis. They never kissed, but Louis felt a strange sense of fulfillment every time he held her hand.

Tragedy unfolded when the factory got flooded, and a fire broke out. Louis and Gabrielle could not escape through the main entrance, and their only hope was the exit that was ten-fifteen meters underwater. Louis decided to go first and find the exit, and he advised Gabrielle to not wait for him for more than two minutes. Louis did not return, and Gabrielle started to swim. She found the exit door, but it was locked. She gave up when she saw Louis’ lifeless body. Louis and Gabrielle’s story ended abruptly. Gabrielle did not know where her fear stemmed from; perhaps this was the tragic end she was always afraid of, or maybe it was the culmination of fear rooted in the present and the future.

Is the 2014 incident based on a real story?

During the DNA purification procedure, Gabrielle found out that she was once a struggling actor and model working in the United States in 2014. She made extra money by house-sitting, oblivious to the threat lurking outside the magnificent house she was looking after. There was a drastic shift in Louis’ character—he was an incel, desperately wanting to seek revenge on blonde women. The character is based on Elliot Rodger, a twenty-two-year-old responsible for the 2014 Isla Vista killing. Growing up an introvert and witnessing his parents divorce, Rodger shied away from conversation, and with time he started to despise women and couples. He was afraid of dying a virgin, and he blamed women for his misery. He believed blonde women were too arrogant, and he wanted to teach them a lesson. Rodger was mentally unstable, but unfortunately, he did not get the help he needed, which resulted in the tragic deaths of innocent people. 

2014 Louis is based on Elliot Rodger, and just like him, he too wanted to seek revenge. Louis believed he had tried his best to impress women, yet they were always repulsed by him. He was convinced that he had all the qualities that women usually search for in a man, but for some reason, they repeatedly rejected his advances.

Why did Louis shoot Gabrielle?

Louis was searching for his victim outside a club, and one night he followed Gabrielle to the house she was paid to look after. Gabrielle was not content with her career; she wanted to become an actor, but she was offered domestic modeling jobs. There were a few commonalities in Gabrielle’s past lives—the presence of a doll, a pigeon, and a fortune teller. Gabrielle was surprised when the fortune teller mentioned that she was looking for a man. She added that Gabrielle’s future was scary and that the man she was in search of made love only in dreams and not in reality. Even though it was a different life, the past continued to haunt Gabrielle. Louis could never become her reality, and she could lose everything in the hopes of a dreamy possibility. Even though Gabrielle did not remember her past life or her future, there were certain occurrences that she could not quite decipher, but the emotion she experienced felt familiar (she felt a strange connection with the song “Evergreen,” which plays in the background when Louis and Gabrielle meet one final time in 2044).

During the earthquake, Gabrielle stepped out of the house, and she came across Louis. She was strangely attracted to him, and she tried to strike up a conversation with him. Louis was full of hate, and he was convinced that Gabrielle would ultimately reject him just like the others did. Gabrielle’s future self was seeing her past lives, and her imagination and desire impacted her vision to an extent. By the time Gabrielle realized the threat that the man she was obsessed with posed, it was already too late. Gabrielle was not afraid of Louis when he broke into her house. She hoped she could have a conversation with him or show him that they had a connection. Gabrielle wanted to believe that Louis would not harm her. She begged him to trust her, and she went ahead and opened the door. Gabrielle from the future hoped that she and Louis got together in 2014, and it resulted in a slight fabrication of the visuals she saw. But the truth was revealed at the end of The Beast. Louis had shot Gabrielle, and once again, their story ended on a tragic and abrupt note.

Was the DNA purification process a success for Gabrielle?

After the invention of AI and its dominance in every field, human beings lost their jobs at a rapid rate. Gabrielle was not happy with her job, which involved reading the temperature of data cores. She wanted to contribute to something more meaningful, and the only way she could get a job of some significance was by purifying her DNA. The procedure aimed to clean up old traumas that the subject might have inherited over centuries, and they continued to subconsciously impact the subject. Even in 2044, Gabrielle continued to feel the same way as she did in 1910. She always felt that something terrible was about to happen, and she was afraid of facing it. The procedure promised to get rid of such feelings by targeting her past.

Gabrielle was introduced to her nurse, Kelly, a doll assigned by the purification center to look after her. Kelly could sense that Gabrielle was not happy, and to cheer her up, she took her to a club. Gabrielle met Louis there. She had previously seen him at the purification center. They both wanted to become less human, yet when they saw their pasts during the procedure, they wondered if they should give themselves another chance. 

Gabrielle tried to lie and pass the purification test, but the image of her dying at the hands of Louis left her in tears. She was advised to attend the session again in a couple of days. Gabrielle was afraid of ruining her present for the sake of her past, and she continued to attend the sessions, but she was not completely sure, and perhaps that was why she was resistant to the purification process. She was told that she was one of the 0.7% of people who were resistant to the treatment.

Why did Gabrielle break down upon seeing Louis?

Gabrielle decided to contact Louis through Kelly. She was of the idea that Louis decided against getting the treatment. She believed that in their past lives, they were always helpless and lost, and they never really knew the reason behind it. But after the sessions, Gabrielle came to realize that it was their evergreen yet tragic love story that always made her feel unsettled. She asked him to meet her at the club where they met the last time. The club was surprisingly empty, and only Louis was present. Gabrielle asked Louis for a dance, and he obliged. While Gabrielle experienced a sense of euphoria upon holding Louis close, he seemed unaffected.

In The Beast‘s ending, Louis mentioned that they had listened to the song several times and he had seen the images during purification. Gabrielle was stunned; she had assumed that Louis had not gone through the procedure, but that was not the case. Louis added that he had obtained a post at the Justice Ministry, further confirming that the purification was a success. Louis was no longer the man he used to be. He lacked passion and analyzed situations from a neutral point of view. He agreed to be with Gabrielle, not because he loved her but because it was the most practical thing to do. The only time that Gabrielle could admit the love she felt for him was when he was no longer capable of loving her back. One way or another, their story always ended on a tragic note. This was their only chance to make it work, given that they had full knowledge of their past and how their circumstances had always kept them apart. But even then, their love remained unfulfilled. Louis chose a cushy job over love, and Gabrielle found the truth incredibly difficult to accept. This time, death did not take a literal turn, but the impact was the same—Louis had lost his soul. Maybe after realizing that love would always remain unattainable for her, Gabrielle might manage to go through with the purification process. Maybe the slight ray of hope of a happily-ever-after had acted as an obstruction in the procedure.

Considering how staged the ending of The Beast appeared to be, it is not entirely improbable that the center responsible for the DNA purification went a step ahead and trapped Gabrielle in a simulation so that she could finally let go of Louis. The next obvious step for her would be to try purification once again, and because she would be willing to turn into a heartless human, the procedure might be a success. AI needed more modified humans in important fields, and it would never miss an opportunity. Bertrand Bonello takes dehumanization up a notch by replacing the end credits with a QR code. The absence of the names of those involved in the making of the film evokes a sense of detachment that comes with technological advancement (a recurring theme in the film).

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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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