Keys to the Heart (2023) summary and ending explained

In Keys to the Heart, a down-on-luck boxer is forced to move in with his family when he finds his mother and talented autistic brother. The movie is now streaming on Netflix.

Warning: This article contains heavy spoilers

Plot summary

Sylvia is navigating her life with her autistic son, Jayjay, who is also a talented pianist despite receiving no music lessons his whole life. He can just hear a piece once and play it on the piano.

Sylvia is told that Jayjay should participate in Batiquin Conservatory’s prestigious piano competition, but Sylvia is not sure about it because Jayjay gets uncomfortable in front of a crowd.

Unbeknownst to Jayjay, Sylvia has also been going through some medical tests. She will be away for a while, and hence, she needs someone to look over Jayjay.

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With the help of Apple, a good friend of Jayjay, Sylvia looks online for someone who can babysit Jayjay. The first person she looks for is Joma, her long-lost son.

Sylvia is surprised to learn that Joma is in the same city. Even Joma is struggling. He has recently been fired from the Adolfo Boxing Gym. He also doesn’t have his boxing license anymore. Since he is old, finding a new job at a gym is going to be trouble for him.

Sylvia surprises Joma, who, to this day, despises her for abandoning him after getting remarried. His father didn’t abandon him, but he used to beat Joma up. Joma’s father went to prison and died there.

Joma has had a difficult life, and he intends to stay as far away from Sylvia as he can. Later that night, Joma gets into a car accident.

Annette Labayen, who is from a powerful family, hit him. The Labayens pay for his hospital bills and also give him extra money for the inconvenience. Sylvia visits Joma in the hospital and convinces him to stay with them until he finds a place and a job.

Joma has to adjust with Sylvia and Jayjay. Joma’s friend, Ver, offers him a job to be Elimar Gacho’s sparring partner. Elimar Gacho is the biggest MMA fighter in the Philippines.

Joma not only struggles to keep up with Elimar, but he also gets humiliated by the fighter. Joma becomes a joke overnight as his fight with Elimar goes viral on the internet. Even his brother, Jayjay, and Apple make fun of him, making things at home difficult too.

Amidst all of his struggles, Annette offers a hand of help again and gives Joma the amount he asks for. When Joma points out how Annette can give money to anyone just like that, he learns from Annette that she has been in a car accident too, and now walks with a prosthetic leg.

Joma has plans to save money and go to Canada for a job. While he is working hard for it, Sylvia keeps asking Joma for favors, like taking Jayjay to places. Joma agrees to help. He only asks Sylvia to not mention their past.

Jayjay often embarrasses Joma. However, the two eventually start getting along as they share their hate for Elimar and love for Chicken Bhoy. Joma also saves Jayjay and Apple when a group of boys bully them.

Sylvia is filled with warmth as she sees her sons getting along, but she has to leave for Batangas soon. She will be gone for a month and needs Joma to take Jayjay to Batiquin Conservatory’s piano competition.

Joma agrees because he will get to keep half of the winning prize. Joma, Jayjay, and Sylvia spend time together as a family. Joma slowly starts accepting them. Sylvia feels content when Joma, for the first time, calls her ‘mom’.

Sylvia leaves for Batangas, and Joma takes Jayjay’s responsibility. Joma learns that Jayjay idolizes none other than Annette Labayen, who is a decorated pianist herself.

The two seek Annette’s help to have Joma participate in Batiquin Conservatory’s piano competition since Jayjay never went to music school and they need an endorsement from a school.

After witnessing Jayjay’s talent, even Annette joins him and plays after a very long time. She shows up to support Jayjay, but Cesar, a judge at the conservatory, doesn’t select Jayjay even after seeing his talent just because he is autistic.

Annette’s father makes arrangements and gets Batiquin Conservatory to let Jayjay join the competition. Joma and Jayjay buy suits for themselves, and moments later, Jayjay goes missing.

Joma searches for his brother everywhere. At last, he goes looking for him in a hospital. While Apple finds Jayjay, Joma, at the hospital, watches a sick Sylvia being taken to the cancer ward.

Keys to the Heart (2023) ending explained in detail:

Why had Sylvia left Joma?

Joma confronts Sylvia. He wonders if this is the only reason Sylvia was searching for him—so that she can have someone to look after Jayjay once she is gone. He questions whether she would have even tried to find him if she hadn’t had cancer.

Once Joma is done pouring out his frustrations about his mother leaving him, Sylvia confesses that she thought she was trying to protect him from his abusive father by sending him away.

She did come looking for him once his father was gone, but Joma had already left. She searched for him everywhere but couldn’t find him until she was introduced to social media by Apple.

Sylvia admits her mistakes and intends to make up for what she did with the time she has left. However, Joma isn’t willing to give her a chance. Hence, he leaves with the money he has for Canada.

Does Joma come back?

Apple and Annette prepare Jayjay for his competition. At the airport, Joma sees the TV channels broadcast news of Jayjay being the first autistic pianist to compete in Batiquin Conservatory’s competition.

Joma hears Jayjay quote the same hero Joma idolizes, which makes Joma emotional. At the competition, Jayjay feels uncomfortable in front of a huge crowd.

At the very last moment, Joma shows up with Sylvia in a wheelchair. They both show support for Jayjay, who gives a breathtaking performance.

Jayjay and Joma’s friends, Ver, Apple, and Annette, are all there for Jayjay. Right after the performance, Sylvia starts coughing, and she is taken to the hospital.

Does Sylvia die?

Jayjay comes to the hospital with his first-prize trophy. Jayjay has accepted his brother, Joma. Sylvia admits that she believed god was punishing her with this disease, but it has brought her family together. She can’t ask for anything more.

Sylvia passes away. After the funeral, Jayjay goes missing. He is found at the Uptown Gym, confronting Elimar, who, upon finding out that Jayjay is Joma’s brother, challenges Joma to a fight again if Joma doesn’t want him to beat Jayjay up.

Joma wins the fight and hugs it out with Jayjay, while Elimar becomes an internet joke this time as his loss goes viral.

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