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Lou Ending Explained: A Deadly Tale Of Generational Trauma


The American action thriller Lou, released through Netflix on September 23, 2022, stars Allison Janney, Jurnee Smollett, and Logan Marshall-Green in the lead roles. The film keeps viewers on their toes from start to finish with many twists and turns throughout its 109 minutes of runtime.

Lou falls under a sub-genre of films called geriatric action. Geriatric action films usually feature an older person performing the stunts and action sequences normally performed by a younger individual. Lou, the titular character of the film, despite her old age, surprises the audience with her agility and combat skills.

Some critics and viewers were left in confusion even after the closing credits rolled. The audience’s state of bewilderment could be largely attributed to the multiple twists and reveals that were hard to keep track of. Let’s take a closer look at the movie to understand its complex plot and to clear this confusion once and for all.


Lou is a lonely elderly woman living on an isolated island with her dog, Jax. She is the neighbor and landlady to a single mother and her young daughter Vee. Lou has made arrangements to kill herself and is about to pull the trigger on herself when she is interrupted by Hannah, who informs her about Vee’s kidnapping and asks for help. Lou puts her plan to kill herself on the back burner and sets out with the distraught mother into the unforgiving storm to rescue Vee. As the women attempt to save Vee, Hannah learns that Lou’s troubled past is somehow tied to her husband Philip, who kidnapped Vee.

Lou Ending Explained: Who is Lou?

The first major revelation of the film comes in the form of Philip, who was previously presumed to be dead. Hannah opens up to Lou about her toxic relationship with her ex-husband and reveals that she fled with her daughter to the island to save themselves from Philip. Philip is a special forces soldier turned war criminal who is now a wanted fugitive by the CIA.

Lou and Hannah’s quest to rescue Vee continues, and they discover a cabin in the middle of the woods that contains people who work for Philip. Lou fights the two men and extracts information about Philip’s whereabouts. Lou’s agility, tracking skills, and combat skills make Hannah question her identity. Lou eventually confesses that she’s a former CIA field agent of 26 years.

Lou and Hannah track Philip and Vee to the beach at Eagle Bay and follow them. In the standoff that follows, Philip is revealed to be Lou’s son. It’s further revealed that Lou was the one who exposed Philip’s crimes so that he could be imprisoned, and she was also the one who orchestrated Hannah moving to Orcas Island with Vee, where she could look out for the both of them from a distance.

An extended flashback reveals the true story of Philip’s birth and the cause of his present behavior. Lou was sent on a CIA mission to get close to a “very dangerous man” during the 1953 Iranian coup d’état. Things took an unexpected turn when she got pregnant with the man’s child. Taking advantage of the situation, she kept the child as part of the mission and used him to maintain her cover.

Philip was eventually taken away from her for a while and forced to live with his father, which left him traumatized. Philip turned resentful towards Lou when he learned the truth of his birth. The trauma Philip suffered during his stay in Iran left him psychologically damaged as an adult and affected his marriage as well. This mental state is what causes him to go after Lou, Hannah, and Lou after they abandoned him. 

In the showdown between the mother and son, Hannah apologizes to Philip for not being a better mother, and Philip breaks down in tears. The tearful reunion is disrupted when the CIA opens fire on them and presumably kills both of them.

The movie ends with a scene of a woman watching Hannah, Vee, and Jax through a pair of binoculars as they leave the island for a better life in Seattle. The woman has similar injuries to Lou and is also seen wearing a copper bracelet which is similar to the one Sheriff Rankin gave to Lou to help ease her arthritis pain. All these suggest that Lou is still alive, but she won’t be able to join Hannah and Vee as the CIA is still out to get her.

Generational trauma is the core element of the movie. Philip was left deeply traumatized by his childhood which eventually bled into his relationships with his wife and daughter. Lou pledges to protect Hannah and Vee to atone for the role she played in Philip’s current state and to prevent her family’s intergenerational trauma from affecting the lives of Hannah and Vee.

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I'm currently pursuing my undergraduate degree in media. I'm an avid reader and also enjoy watching movies in my free time. I hope to develop my skills as a writer and make a career in it someday.

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