‘One Night’ (2023) Recap & Ending Explained: Do Simone, Tess, And Hat Rekindle Their Friendship?

Imagine growing up surrounded by countless experiences, people, and events. Some of these stay with you throughout your life, influencing every choice you make. These experiences can have either a positive or negative impact on the decisions you make. However, there are instances when certain experiences refuse to fade away. They are so distressing and haunting that they cast a dark shadow over everything you do, compelling you to believe that nothing good remains in your life. This is precisely the situation faced by three close friends: Simone, Tess, and Hat. Initially, their lives seemed relatively stable until the ghosts of that One Night returned to the forefront of their minds. These memories have lain dormant for years, but now they resurface, creating chaos in their present lives.

Spoilers Ahead 

What Happens When Simone, Tess, And Hat Reunite?

One Night kicks off with themes that will keep you glued to the screen, as it all starts with three best friends who were inseparable in the past but have now drifted apart over the past 20 years. Simone, Tess, and Hat, once as close as can be, have taken separate paths in life, and their once-strong bond has lost its spark. Simone has been harboring a secret—a novel she’s written that is based on a traumatic incident from their shared past. This novel is something she desperately wants to keep hidden from Tess and Hat. Simone is worried about how they will react if they find out about it. So she decides to publish her novel anonymously, hoping to keep her secret hidden for a little while longer. As expected, Hat eventually discovers the truth about the novel and its anonymous publication.

To her dismay, the story contains statements that paint a negative picture of Hat and the other characters, which she vehemently believes are entirely false. Simone, on the other hand, stands by how she portrays events in the novel, leading to a sharp difference of opinion between them. This difference causes a growing rift between the friends, with each of them anxiously waiting to see who will ultimately decide to inform Tess about the unsettling past that the novel reflects. At the same time, it becomes evident that Simone and Tess share a bond that goes beyond mere friendship. With Tess living a content life alongside her partner and two children, Simone finds herself in a challenging situation. While Tess appears to have moved on happily, Simone feels like the only one still haunted by the ghosts of their shared past.

For Simone, publishing the novel wasn’t the wrong choice; it was a way to express her own experiences and emotions. In Simone’s eyes, the story within the novel isn’t just Tess’s story; it’s her story as well. The past incidents have left a lasting impact on Simone, shaping her emotions. She believes that sharing these experiences through her writing is a form of catharsis, a way to process the trauma that continues to linger. So, in her mind, the decision to publish the book isn’t an act of betrayal but rather an attempt to find closure and make sense of everything that happened to her and Tess.

What Happened Twenty Years Ago?

Twenty years ago, in One Night, Simone, Tess, and Hat were inseparable friends, enjoying their lives to the fullest. However, everything changed one night at a party. Simone stumbled upon a distressing scene where Tess was being physically abused by two young men, Joey and Trevor. Tess had disappeared from the party, and Simone found her alone with Joey and Trevor in the loading area. Even in her intoxicated state, Simone could tell something terrible was happening to Tess. But here’s where the story takes a twist: Hat had a different perspective on that night. She had witnessed Joey’s actions throughout the day. According to Joey, Tess was becoming romantically involved with someone else at the party, and he was simply trying to help her. Hat believed him, as there had always been a romantic connection between her and Joey.

This incident had a huge impact on their friendship. While a case was filed, nothing substantial came out of it. Ultimately, Tess bore the brunt of the blame, with accusations of being too drunk. Joey and Trevor were involved in drug dealing, but only Trevor faced charges related to it, leaving Joey untouched by the legal consequences. As Hat reviews her past statements given during police interrogations, she realizes that she has been unkind to Tess, possibly unfairly blaming her and defending Joey without knowing the complete truth. Hat had often felt left out in their friendship, as Tess and Simone were usually inseparable, leaving her isolated. On the other hand, there’s a palpable sense that Joey is hiding something, but he remains tight-lipped, refusing to reveal the full truth of that night.

What Happened When Tess Discovered The Novel?

When Eden, a journalist, contacts Tess, presuming she’s the author of the book, it takes a significant toll on her mental state. Tess is on her way to becoming a new financial director, but the sudden appearance of the novel online makes her feel as though her most personal experiences are under attack. This is where their differing perspectives come into play. Tess believes that Simone is turning her experience of physical abuse into a form of financial exploitation, while Simone sees it differently. From Simone’s perspective, she had to return to Sydney and confront the past head-on, while Tess had the opportunity to move on and build a new life elsewhere.

This fundamental difference in how they view the situation leads to a sense of betrayal on Tess’s part. Tess wishes Simone had at least given her a heads-up about the book. As anxiety starts to take hold, the narrative weaves together past incidents, including the night of the party when Tess was in the loading area with another guy. This event caused a heated argument between Tess and Simone, each of whom had their own interpretation of what transpired that night. These differing opinions make it challenging for them to draw conclusions about each other’s perspectives and actions, leaving the crucial question unanswered: What exactly happened during that fateful night?

Tess and Hat find themselves embroiled in a major confrontation due to the shocking statements Hat has made about Tess, as per the book. Tess is determined to fight this all over again, considering filing a defamation case against Simone for exploiting her personal experiences as content. However, the situation takes a tragic turn when a young man named Sean tragically passes away in a surfing incident. Tess stumbles upon her daughter, Lily, at a party, wearing the same red dress Tess wore 20 years ago. To Tess’s dismay, Lily is facing harassment from a young man at the party.

This harrowing experience triggers painful memories of the past. To make matters even more complicated, Trevor, who had been imprisoned earlier, has been released. His release sparks a significant conflict between Tess and Lily, as Tess desperately wants her daughter to stay away from Trevor’s son. Unfortunately, Lily, being a typical teenager, doesn’t seem to fully grasp the gravity of the situation. Instead, she ends up blaming Tess for everything, putting Tess in an emotionally challenging position and causing her to experience a mental breakdown once again.

Who Is Ultimately Revealed As The True Culprit?

In the conclusion of One Night, Tess is resolute in her desire to make Joey and Trevor pay for whatever they did to her in the past. She’s determined to seek justice for the trauma she endured. She even resorts to buying Joey’s pub under a fake identity, with the intent to set it ablaze and reduce it to ashes. Simone, on the other hand, faces a legal notice related to her book, courtesy of Hat. However, her concern isn’t about the traumatic content but rather how it might affect Trevor and Joey. Tess feels deeply betrayed when she realizes that Hat’s help is more about saving herself than supporting her. Their disputes ultimately boil down to blaming Simone for writing the book in the first place. Simone faces more challenges as her publishing company wants her to alter the book’s content to avoid legal issues.

Despite the mounting pressure, Simone is determined to keep her name on the book. She’s even willing to go to great lengths, including a public revelation to the press, to maintain her authority.. As if things weren’t complicated enough, Trevor discovers the existence of the book, and given his sociopathic tendencies and past jail time, this raises serious concerns. He decides to confront Hat, intensifying her fears that Trevor might come after her next. Trevor even breaks into Hat’s house, mistakenly believing she wrote the book, leaving a warning behind.

As the story progresses, it becomes clear that Hat wasn’t the one who put Trevor in jail, but rather someone else, possibly Joey, held the key to what really happened to Tess. Facing Joey is a daunting challenge for Tess, as it forces her to confront the painful events of their shared past. With great courage, Tess and Joey finally meet to unearth the truth of that fateful night 20 years ago. What unfolds is a revelation that everyone has their own version of events. Simone believed Joey was responsible for wrongdoing, but Joey claimed he didn’t witness anything except Trevor and himself being near Tess.

Here’s where the story takes an unexpected turn: Joey reveals that he had been wearing a wire that night. This device was crucial in untangling the mystery surrounding drug dealings, which could have jeopardized the prosecution and put Joey’s life at risk. Tess carefully listens to the entire audio recording, and during this time, Trevor starts making moves on Lily, attempting to separate her from his own son, Jason, and even physically abuse her, but Joey saves Lily on time. This is where the truth finally comes to light: Trevor was indeed the one who physically abused Tess, and he had done the same to Simone in the past. Joey, despite wanting to intervene, couldn’t prevent it. In the end, the brothers get into a huge fight, and Trevor has no choice but to leave town as he is pushed out by his own mother.

With the truth exposed, the story gradually takes a positive turn. The friends reconcile and focus on healing their personal lives. They tend to each other’s wounds, emphasizing the idea that we must confront our past for the betterment of our younger selves and to let them know that we are there for them. One Night serves as a reminder that life’s challenges can’t keep us down, and we can overcome them. With the truth finally revealed, Tess experiences a sense of liberation as she embraces herself and the newfound part of her identity, symbolized by her dipping into the sea. With this, Tess finally shatters the chains binding her body and mind. The symbolism of the sea represents her freedom and the emotional liberation she feels after confronting the truth and overcoming the weight of her past. It’s a powerful metaphor for her journey towards healing.

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Raschi Acharya
Raschi Acharya
Raschi Acharya is a Mass Media graduate and she is currently working and living in Mumbai. From a very young age, Raschi was heavily interested in reading and writing. She prefers to write everything that her mind nurtures her to do as shaping up her imagination is her forte!

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