‘Frontiers’ 2023 Ending Explained & Movie Recap: Did Diane’s Mind Find Peace?

The process of dealing with grief, especially with the loss of someone dear, is different for each individual, but sharing the emotional burden with the people who empathize surely helps people to move on, irrespective of how they cope with their loss. This realization takes on a new dimension when themes of matriarchy, femininity, and family ties are intricately woven into the narrative, and that is what Guy Édoin’s Frontiers is all about. However, this basic premise doesn’t tell the entire story, as there is much the movie wants to convey through the four female leads within a short runtime. Some of the intended messages lands, especially due to how good the chemistry between the characters turns out to be, which properly relays the undercurrent of pathos and desperation to the viewers. But confusion (not the good kind) and boredom massively sap at the interest through the course of the first hour of the movie due to the slow pacing and tension, which often feel contrived. In addition to that, the movie can’t set itself into a definite foundation and oscillates between supernatural and psychological thriller, and could have fared well in better hands, but that isn’t the case in this scenario. However, despite all that being said, we can’t deny that a major part of the shortcomings of Frontiers get covered up by the taut, powerful characterization of the four female leads in the movie, and their relationship dynamics make for a familiar yet unexpectedly unique experience.


Spoilers Ahead

Are Diane’s experiences real or imaginary?

As Frontiers begins, the narrative focuses on Diane Messier, a rancher residing on the outskirts of the French-Canadian township of Saint Armand, along with his daughter, Sarah. Diane’s father, Réne, passed away a few days ago, leaving his inheritance for his three daughters, their mother, and his granddaughter. Even though her two sisters, Carmen and Julie, have moved from the family ranch house, Diane is unwilling to leave the only surviving memory of her father. With the hunting season about to start, hunters from cities have already started trespassing from both sides of the border, making the maintenance of ranch a troublesome affair. 


The movie wastes no time to show that Diane is not among the most mentally stable persons, as anxiety and paranoia are her constant companions. From affixing a dozen locks on her door, or grabbing her firearm or knife at a moment’s notice, to hearing and seeing things that aren’t there, Diane is deeply disturbed by her mental afflictions, and the death of her father has only worsened her condition. She sees strange apparitions of her late father in her house, often finds doors and cupboards opening on their own, and a number of strange occurrences happen around her that simply can’t be ignored by popping pills anymore, as suggested by her muffled sobbing in bathroom. The recent update about two dreaded criminals escaping prison in the vicinity has made Diane all the more worried, and she seems to be constantly on the edge. 

Is Diane’s Mental Agony a Reflection of Her Family Troubles?

Diane’s sisters are quite supportive towards her, with younger sister Julie in her gentle demeanor trying to be more sympathetic, while Carmen’s sarcastic, sassy quips are desperate attempts to bring Diane back to reality. For the customary probate hearing, their mother, Angèle, arrives from Florida and reunites with her daughters after a long time. Angèle learns that Diane’s condition is deteriorating and despite her best intentions, she isn’t able to help Diane as she constantly distances herself. It is gradually revealed that, in one way or another, women in the Messier family had had dysfunctional personal lives to begin with, the influence of which in Diane’s subconscious might have been aggravating her mental afflictions. 


Angèle left the family when her daughters were young and cheated on Réne, an incident that led to Diane having an estranged relationship with her mother. Julie’s boyfriend is a drunken, cheating moocher who gaslights and manipulates her like anything. Carmen is in an affair with Val, whose abusive husband has been a major problem in their lives. The troubles of her family have affected Diane’s life, as she separated from her boyfriend, Sarah’s father, Pierre, sometime ago, despite him having a good relationship with Diane and with her late father. The constant feeling of hopelessness and loneliness that engulfs Diane only gets somewhat assuaged by Sarah’s presence, who comforts her by saying that she believes in her words and that she too can feel grandpa’s presence in their home.

Angèle asks her daughters to sell the ranch and settle elsewhere, leaving the past where it belongs. Diane is rather irritated by this suggestion, as leaving her paternal home is totally out of the question for her. Perhaps the mere mention of leaving the life behind triggers a fear of separation, as she meets Pierre that night by responding to his request, and the duo makes love. However, Diane still isn’t willing to bring him back into her life just yet. That night, alarmed by a suspicion of an intruder, Diane stays awake till morning holding her rifle, and as the police arrive the next day, it is revealed that this wasn’t the first or solitary instance of Diane calling the cops out of fear of a non-existent threat. Julie arrives at the family ranch house as well, leaving her own house to her pathetic boyfriend, with whom she has finally decided to break up. Diane, Carmen, and Angèle go with Julie to her house and burn all the belongings of her boyfriend to ensure he gets the message loud and clear. A symbolic rejection of the shackling past, this moment is pretty admirable and cool. 


Did Diane’s mind find peace at the end?

During Frontiers‘ ending, Val’s abusive husband catches her and Carmen in the act and drags her away, while warning Carmen of the consequences at the same time. Diane, on the other hand, meets her grandmother at an old age home, whose revelation about Sarah’s death triggers a manic episode in Diane, almost like chasing ghosts. She tries to find Sarah everywhere, but to no avail. Screaming in despair and agony, Diane takes the rifle and heads to the wilderness after spotting a buck. Réne died in a car accident while saving a deer, and in Diane’s mind, she sees this buck as being responsible for Sarah being missing. Listening to her cries, Angèle, Carmen, and Julie go to the wilderness to find her, and finally, Angèle confronts Diane with the sordid truth: the road accident claimed both Sarah and Réne’s lives. The pain of losing both of her loved ones was too extreme for Diane, who had gone into a psychological denial state, unable to cope with the pain. Listening to the cold, hard truth once again, Diane becomes a wreck of a person and accidentally grazes her mother with the rifle. 

Later that night, Angèle shares her willingness to spend the rest of her life with her daughters in the ranch house, as she knows Diane needs her to eventually get better. Diane wakes up later to find Sarah in their home, and before she can reconcile, she gets distracted by someone’s presence, and it turns out Val’s abusive husband has returned to pester the Messier family, and Diane retaliates by shooting. This bit was really unnecessary, as it disrupted the narrative flow big time. The next morning, police arrive to take the injured intruder away and reveal that the escaped prisoners were apprehended elsewhere. Angèle tries to have a talk with Diane, who ignores her and proceeds to move inside her quarters. 


In Frontiers‘ ending, Angèle follows her daughter, and gets surprised to see Diane bidding her farewell from Réne and Sarah, and this scene adds an unnecessary supernatural flair to the narrative, which undermines the psychological aspect of the treatment. With a final embrace, Diane bids her loved ones adieu, and Angèle pulls her daughter closer, assuring her that she will always have her mother by her side. Devoid of judgment, criticism, and concerns, the moment marks a loving bond between the mother and daughter, which comforts Diane’s troubled psyche. As the final moments of the movie show the departed spirits of Réne and Sarah walking towards a foggy horizon, it symbolizes Diane being able to move on by sharing her grief with her family. Whether her afflictions will return in the future  remains unknown, but she can find solace in the fact that the Messier family will be able to take care of them. 

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Siddhartha Das
Siddhartha Das
An avid fan and voracious reader of comic book literature, Siddhartha thinks the ideals accentuated in the superhero genre should be taken as lessons in real life also. A sucker for everything horror and different art styles, Siddhartha likes to spend his time reading subjects. He's always eager to learn more about world fauna, history, geography, crime fiction, sports, and cultures. He also wishes to abolish human egocentrism, which can make the world a better place.

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