‘Elena Knows’ Ending Explained & Movie Spoilers: What Was Rita’s Relationship With Isabella?

Adapted from Claudia Piñeiro’s novella of the same name, Netflix has brought us Elena Knows, a thought-provoking film directed by Anahí Berneri and starring Erica Rivas and Mercedes Moran. Elena Knows is a melancholic narrative following the tumultuous journey of Elena, an elderly lady diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease. On the surface, the story of Elena Knows revolves around Elena’s journey to know the truth behind her daughter’s death, but the Netflix film sheds light on serious issues like abortion, mental health, and the concept of having freedom over one’s own body. Let’s discuss whether Elena can unravel the mystery of her daughter’s death at the end of the story.

Spoilers Ahead


Plot Synopsis: What Happens In The Film?

Elena Knows is about the titular protagonist, Elena, an elderly woman with Parkinson’s disease, which is getting progressively more severe. Elena had no one but her daughter, Rita, to take care of her. Rita was a grown-up lady who could not fulfill her own desire of having a family due to the responsibility she had of taking care of her mother. It was true that her mother’s health was an important matter to Rita, but she felt increasingly frustrated and tired of serving her mother like her own child. Moreover, Elena was a very difficult person. As she got older, she became somewhat hot-headed, which was always hard for Rita to accept. But even though Elena was really difficult to manage, Rita always had her back.

Elena didn’t like Rita’s boyfriend, Pablo. She even used to call her boyfriend “hunchback” in an insulting tone, which Rita didn’t like at all. Rita had been raised by her mother, but her relationship with her mother was not easy. Elena was a very controlling mother who made all the decisions in Rita’s life. Whether Rita would be able to have a cat at home, whether she would have a boyfriend, or whether she would be able to bring her best friend to her home, Elena had to interfere in everything. Elena was not pleased with Rita, which was evident in their relationship.

As Elena’s Parkinson’s slowly became severe, Rita tried all sorts of treatments. Rita was a school teacher, so her financial situation was not that great, but she tried to treat her mother as much as possible. In this regard, her ex-boyfriend Pablo helped her a lot. But one day, when Elena and Rita had a little argument, Rita maintained some distance from her mother. Elena wanted her daughter to dye her hair, but since Rita couldn’t, Elena went to the parlor. When she returned from the parlor and waited for her daughter to come home, the police knocked on her door. The police informed her that Rita’s hanging body had been found in the local church. According to the police, it was nothing but suicide, but Elena couldn’t believe that her daughter would commit suicide. She asked the police to do an autopsy and repeatedly visited the police station to put pressure on the inspector so that they would start investigating Rita’s death, but the police knew from the very start that it was an open and shut case.


Who Killed Rita?

Elena’s suspicions fell upon Rita’s childhood crush, Father Juan, the priest of the church where Rita was found dead. Juan was the only one present at the church where Rita died. Elena also believed that Rita wouldn’t have gone to church on her own as it was a stormy evening. She always stayed home during the rainstorms, despite the mass going on at the church. So she concluded that Juan had some involvement in the murder. Desperate to prove that, she repeatedly visited the police station, but the police ruled Juan out. She even had suspicions about one of Rita’s students, a teenager, who once wrote insulting words on the wall of Elena’s house. Elena confronted her and almost physically threatened her, but the situation was handled. The police asked Elena not to visit Rita’s school anymore. The police even informed her that they had dug up the case and found out that Rita was actually on antidepressants, as prescribed by her doctor, Benegas.

Benegas was the doctor who once treated Elena, so she couldn’t believe that Rita was also seeing Benegas for her own health. She went straight up to meet Benegas and came to know that on the evening Rita died, she’d visited him and asked him for advice. She was really frustrated by the fact that she would have to take care of her mother for all her life, which was killing her from within. She couldn’t even have her own family, which was robbing her of peace of mind and leaving her with no will to live anymore. The doctor prescribed her some pills, but Rita was on the verge of a severe mental breakdown. So even though it was raining, she came out of the clinic and went to the church to finally hang herself. The church priest, Juan, found her body and called the police. But he told them to come after the mass so that he would pray for Rita’s soul. Elena, after coming out of the clinic, visited Juan and accused him of having a hand in her daughter’s death, but Juan told her the truth. Even though he believed suicide was a sin, he prayed for Rita’s soul. Confronted by the truth, heartbroken Elena wanted to try again to look into this case by contacting Rita’s old classmate and friend Isabella. She believed only Isabella would be able to help her find the truth about her daughter’s death.


What Was Rita’s Relationship With Isabella?

Elena embarked on her journey to meet Isabella, who was a close friend of Rita when they were at school. But Elena never liked her. Isabella used to have a boyfriend with whom she got pregnant. She didn’t want to keep the child, but Rita, who believed abortion was a sin, forced her to go back home and talk to her parents about giving birth to the baby properly. Isabella hated to give birth to the child, as she wasn’t ready to become a mother. She expected Rita to be by her side at that moment to console her and support her in her decision to have an abortion, but Rita did the opposite, which was surprising and disheartening for Isabella. After returning home, she had to give birth to the child, but she could never bring herself to fully embrace her and give her the love she deserved. For Isabella, Rita was not a friend anymore. Rather, Rita was the one who not only ruined Isabella’s life but also destroyed her child’s life, who never got motherly affection from Isabella.

However, Elena didn’t know that at all. She thought Rita must have had a very strong connection with Isabella, so she traveled all the way to Isabella’s place, even though the journey was hectic and dangerous for her at such a stage. As Isabella gave her the reality check, saying that she hadn’t had a connection with her for a long time, Elena realized that she had nowhere to turn anymore. Even though she believed Rita couldn’t commit suicide, she realized that she couldn’t comprehend what was going on inside the mind of a different human being. She couldn’t understand what Rita had been going through; therefore, she accepted the fact that Rita had killed herself. However, for the last time, she wanted to have authority over her own body. When she was under Rita’s care, she always had to listen to her daughter’s commands. But now that Rita was gone, she could live her life on her own terms. In the concluding moments, we saw her returning from Isabella’s place and taking a cab towards her home. However, elsewhere, she stopped the cab and got out of the car with an umbrella. She left the umbrella on the road and embraced the rainwater, finally trying to live her life.


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Poulami Nanda
Poulami Nanda
Poulami Nanda hails from a medical background, yet her journey is to cross the boundaries of medicine and survive in the cinematic world. The surrealistic beauty of cinema and art has attracted her from a very young age. She loves to write poems, songs, and stories, but her dream is to write films someday. She has also worked as a painter, but nothing attracts her more than cinema. Through her writings, she wants to explore the world of cinema more and more and take her readers on the same ride.

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