The After Ending Explained – Who is Dayo grieving for?

By Romey Norton
Published: October 25, 2023
The After Ending Explained
The After (2023/Netflix) Image via Neon Films

The After is a British Netflix short film directed and co-written by Misan Harriman, starring David Oyelowo in the lead role of Dayo. In this intense short film, Dayo is a grieving rideshare driver who picks up a passenger who helps him confront the past. It’s simple, it’s predictable, but it’s still emotionally charged and effective. However, it also builds to a slightly sudden and ambiguous ending, which is worthy of some examination. 

We’re going to do our best to unpack not just what happens but what it all means, however, our efforts in doing so will contain major spoilers

The After Ending Explained

Dayo closes himself off to everyone around him, and as he’s driving a character arc begins to build — but then the film ends. Given the constrained timeline to work with, the film ends abruptly and doesn’t fully complete the arc. Dayo drops a family off, with a young girl who reminds him of his daughter. This girl gives him a hug, and he breaks down crying. After picking himself up off the floor, literally, he gets into his taxi. The sun beaming onto his face, he gently smiles and drives off. The accompanying music is the thing telling the audience he’s moving on. 

You are left wondering what his journey would have been like — this open-ended question, and not seeing him gain closure or complete happiness reminds its audience that you never really let go of grief, you just make room for it. However, it doesn’t feel like a strong ending for a short film. It was sweet and wholesome but it needed to be bigger. 

Who is Dayo grieving for?

Dayo is grieving the loss of his family — his daughter and her mother.

Out in London with his daughter, walking across the famous bridge landmarks, Dayo’s daughter asks him to dance. Together they share a special moment practicing some ballet. Her in bright yellow, wearing Converse, and him in a sharp, smart suit. A near miss from a bike gets the heart racing… his daughter runs to meet her mother and whilst Dayo takes a work call, a man stabs his daughter and throws her off the balcony. Laura, her mother, then throws herself off too. Dayo spends the short film coming to terms with these deaths, and his grief. 

Who does Dayo meet? 

During his job as a taxi driver, Dayo meets many people in the back of his car. Some talk, some ignore, some pretend he’s not there, some put their headphones in and fall asleep. We never learn any names or make any real connections. 

There is one family, with one young girl who reminds Dayo of his daughter. She’s ignored by her parents and is clearly unhappy. As he drops them off the young girl gives Dayo a hug, which causes him to burst into tears and fall to the floor. 

Does Dayo find happiness?

In the end, as he drives away into the sun with a more confident smile, audiences can take away that Dayo is on his path to happiness and ready to build his life. 

What did you think of the ending of The After? Comment below.

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