Too Old for Fairy Tales is a Polish film about Waldek, a young boy who calls himself an e-sports athlete, with an overprotective mother. Soon his mother’s illness and the company of an eccentric aunt gives him a lesson in maturity and independence. Too Old for Fairy Tales is now streaming on Netflix.
Waldek is a spoiled gamer. His overprotective mother, Tereska, has made life too easy for him such that he has grown to be unhealthy and dependent. But soon Waldek’s mother needs to go out of town for a few days so she leaves him in the care of her aunt, Mariolka, known for her eccentricities and unusual habits like suspending herself from the ceiling using a harness and pretending to fly.
Once in charge of looking after Waldek, Mariolka becomes a hard task-master and trains him to become independent and physically active. She makes him cycle everyday, do his own laundry, cook food, clean the toilet and the like.
The boy is very resentful at first. In one rebellious act, Waldek runs away from home in search of his mother and finds her in a hospital room seeking treatment for cancer — something that she had kept hidden from him. Waldek feels lied to and angry for being treated like a baby. He comes back home without confronting his mother.
Meanwhile, Waldek with his friend, Staszek, is looking to compete in an e-sports tournament but needs a third member in the team to qualify. On their search, they meet Delfina, a girl Waldek immediately becomes infatuated with.
However, Delfina isn’t interested in becoming his girlfriend, leaving him dejected and disappointed. He also comes to know that Staszek had tried kissing Delfina, making him seethe with a sense of betrayal and hopelessness. In his anger, he throws away their application form for the gaming tournament in the trash can. Mariolka notices this act but goes to sleep.
It is later revealed that she secretly takes out the gaming tournament application form out of the trash and submits it. For this, Waldek is extremely grateful. The character of Mariolka is much more nuanced than just being a quirky aunt. Over time, Waldek grows to love his Auntie Mariolka.
The next day, Tereska is back. Waldek goes to visit his grandfather with his mother and her aunt. There, he learns about his dead grandmother and the fact that Mariolka was a paratrooper but stopped pursuing her passion after her sister’s death.
He also realizes that his mother is keeping her illness a secret from her father too. Although, he can tell that his daughter is lying. At the same time, Tereska realizes that her son is old enough to take care of himself, followed by a mother-and-son bonding moment.
If you still have doubts about the ending, here’s a full breakdown.
Too Old for Fairy Tales ending explained in detail:
What happens to Waldek’s mother?
Tereska, Waldek’s mother, has cancer but she was hiding this from her son since the beginning. She tells him that she is going for a clinical test in another town but in reality she iss going for her chemotherapy treatment.
In lying to her son, she was trying to protect him from the hurt and sadness that would come from knowing the truth. She does the same with her father, sparing them the agony that arises from the idea of her death.
By the end of the movie, it is revealed that her treatment is going well and she will get better soon. Tereska tells this news to Waldek in very vague terms, still treating him like a small child.
Waldek points this out but understands that it will take his mother some time to get used to his mature self. Tereska also says that nothing is surely known about her disease.
In this way, the story embraces the uncertainty that comes with disease and insists on maintaining hope for the future.
What about Waldek’s friends?
Waldek had felt let down by Staszek, and was embarrassed in front of Delfina. He starts avoiding both of them. But soon he learns that he and Delfina will still be friends.
After coming back from his grandfather’s house, Waldek also manages to forgive Staszek, despite his weak apology simply because Staszek gives him company when he most needs it- waiting for his mother’s test results.
How do Waldek and his mother resolve their differences?
The main conflict between Waldek and his mother is her refusal to share a very serious part of her life with him. They both resolve this by making a few changes. With the help of Mariolka, Waldek proves to his mother that he is now old enough to understand what is really happening.
He borrows a phrase that Mariolka had used earlier “cut your fear in half” to help his mother share her difficulties and sadness about her illness. The phrase essentially means that sharing your pain with a loved one can make it easier to bear it. Tereska begins to be more honest with him.
At the same time, Waldek understands that his mother needs time to adjust to him growing up, and to share the truth with her father. Although her father knows something is wrong, Tereska believes that he couldn’t tell and Waldek lies to her in order to protect her.
This, he says, comes from a place of love and hurts the liar the most.
So, by the end of the movie, the lie we see being told by Tereska is now being told by Waldek in return. First, Tereska was protecting her son, and now Waldek is protecting his mother from the truth about her father’s awareness of her illness.
He realizes that she will have to tell him eventually but until she is ready, he will lie to her out of love.