Applauded for its sensitive portrayal of trauma, the expertly-calibrated drama captures the teenagers' attempts to process the life-changing event. Shedding light on how it influences rites of passage like an attempted first kiss, The Fallout aims to explore the workings of the survivors' psyche.
'The Fallout' ending explained: What happens at the end of the movie?
Vada, the resident no-nonsense girl, and Mia, the Instagram famous teenager who has long practiced the art of hiding emotions, develop a complicated relationship with each other in the aftermath of the shooting. At first, Vada and Mia exchange notes on how their lives are changing day by day, but their relationship complicates somewhat after they decide to sleep together.
But the girls seem to mend things by the end of the movie.
Plagued by insomnia, reluctant to go back to school, and frequently left to her own devices in the absence of her fathers, Mia ultimately decides to start attending dance classes again.
In the last scene, Vada is waiting for Mia's class to finish, which is when things go unexpectedly wrong again. She receives a phone notification about a school shooting taking place in Ohio. She has a panic attack. The screen fades to white.
Some praise The Fallout writer and director Megan Park for steering away from the cliches and refusing to end the movie on a positive, optimistic note, emphasizing instead that moving past trauma is not always a straightforward process. But others are disappointed because The Fallout doesn't have a clear-cut resolution.
"The ending with Vada having a panic attack and then it just ends? I thought maybe the next scene would be Mia comforting her or something, but no. I'm sad," tweeted @comicalvillain.
"I badly needed a sequel. The trauma and healing process of Vada is relatable in all aspects. But I want to know more about Mia's story, imagine living there all alone after the incident. I'm worried about her too," tweeted @justmimiyaah.
Jenna Ortega has already earned accolades for her insightful portrayal of Vada, the protagonist of 'The Fallout.'
The Coachella Valley-born actress mesmerized fans with her thoughtful take on Vada, a rebellious teenager whose life takes a radically new direction after the school shooting.
The bathroom stall scene — during which Vada, Mia, and a third kid, Quinton (Niles Fitch), try to hide, praying they won't be found — quickly gives way to a new set of relationships between the trio. Vada tries to kiss Quinton, who loses his brother during the shooting, and she sleeps with Mia.
While her relationship with Quinton practically ceases after the misjudged kiss scene, Vada and Mia continue to play a role in each other's lives. At one point in the movie, Vada finds Mia, who has the family house to herself, passed out. Vada's new therapist, Anna (Shailene Woodley), becomes an important influence as well.
Applauded for its nuanced portrayal of Vada's relationships with family and friends, The Fallout captures how things change between the protagonist and her family too.
The Fallout is available on HBO Max now.