‘The Roads Not Taken’ Ending Explained

Javier Bardem plays Leo, a man who suffers from dementia, and Elle Fanning plays his daughter Molly.

The Roads Not Taken

The Roads Not Taken is a 2020 family drama film directed by Sally Potter and features Javier Bardem as Leo, a man who suffers from dementia. His daughter Molly, played by Elle Fanning, struggles to understand what her father is going through but she does not want to give up. Leo resides in a one-bedroom apartment with minimal furniture but in his mind, he travels to the past...visiting roads he didn't take...choices he never made. 

If you've watched the film and you're left wondering what the last scene depicts, Digital Mafia Talkies will fill you in. The film ends where it begins, in Leo’s apartment. The character is back in bed and wakes up to find his daughter Molly sitting by the bed. Throughout the film, he is tormented by visions of his other potential lives. In one alternate reality, he lives in Mexico with his first love, Dolores (Salma Hayek). In another, he lives on a Greek island where he smokes and drinks. By the end of the film, "he realizes that he made the right choice, the choice that led him to be with his daughter. Molly was surprised when Leo uttered her name, with the events of the previous day, she had assumed that her father might not even recognize who she was. To hear him say her name after all that she went through made a difference in her life. Her father did run away to Greece after she was born, but he returned immediately after realizing that it was a mistake."

The film ends with Molly being given two roads to take. Will she help her father go to sleep and go to work? Or will she stay and spend time with him, will she navigate through his puzzling world? While in her heart she would want to be with her father all the time, realistically, she has to go to work and continue with her life. BFI writes "In the final moments of the film, following a difficult heart-to-heart, there are two versions of Molly – one who is leaving to go to work, and another who is staying with him. It’s a rather bittersweet suggestion that Leo will belatedly reimagine how he spent the day before with his daughter."