Before we delve into the mysterious ending of The Healer, let’s put it out there: The Healer is a charity film. 100% of its earnings go to Paul Newman’s foundation for children who are terminally ill.
The Healer is a Spanish-Canadian-American comedy-drama that revolves around Alec Bailey (Oliver Jackson-Cohen), a mechanical engineer who is said to be gifted with the power to heal people. As the film proceeds, we learn that Alec belongs to a generation of white male healers, who probably also had a problematic youth until the discovery of this special power purifies their soul.
This generation of white males has their portraits up in Alec’s uncle’s house in Nova Scotia. Due to his failing business, debts, and gambling, Alec finds himself in a financial constraint. Enter Alec’s mysterious uncle, Raymond Heacock, who is willing to pay all of Alec’s debts (Russian goons are after him for the money). But on one condition: Alec will have to spend a year in his uncle’s house in Nova Scotia, a small Canadian town.
Alec meets Cecilia (Camilla Luddington) in the small town, who helps him out. She puts out in an advertisement that Alec is the “healer” of machines. But due to a misprint in the flyer, Alec’s qualification is simply printed as “the healer”. In consequence, people start crowding Alec’s doorstep, requesting him to cure their ailments.
However, all of the sick guys who turn up at Alec’s doorstep actually magically get healed! Moreover, a priest comes back from death caused by a heart attack, just with a few moments in Alec’s company. At this point, the only thing that kept me going was the cause behind the film. I am not joking.
Yet, Alec does not wish to accept his powers. His way out is to choose not to accept them until a day after his birthday. So, he chooses not to.
1. Does Alec Gets His Powers Back in The Healer?
In a melodramatic turn, we meet Abigail (Kaitlyn Bernard), a young girl suffering from cancer whose parents approach Alec requesting him to try his healing powers on her. It turns out that Alec had also lost a twin to cancer, so this is a matter close to his heart. He gets a dream about his twin Charlie, which convinces him to help Abigail.
So, Alec asks God in a local church to return his powers back (and also calls God an idiot).
It works, of course, and Abigail’s cancer starts healing. Cecilia (who was into women until now) suddenly decides to fall for Alec’s charms and realizes that she is not into women. All win-win for our messiah.
But that is not the end. There’s more to it!
2. The Healer Ending Explained
In the end, we see Alec receiving a phone call from Abigail. Apparently, she is soon going to heal completely as the doctors have found a way to cure her.
Then, Uncle Raymond comes out of the iconic basement where the portraits of the generation of healers were kept and says, “I just had to do something.” Cut to next shot: Alec’s portrait seems to have appeared on one of the basement walls!
So, though Alec refuses to accept his powers of healing, he doesn’t actually lose them. In all probability, Alec was probably a healer all along. He only had to realize it himself. Our hero can give the medical industry a run for its money, because all he needs to do to heal people of their ailments is to be near them for some time.
Another important sign in the film is Cecilia’s dog barking at Alec whenever he is around. It probably implies that dogs don’t lie, so Alec was indeed a healer all along.
In the end, Alec realizes that he was the Healer all along. The audience sees his portrait on the basement wall indicating that he was gifted from the beginning. Cecilia’s dog also barked whenever he was around. And dogs don’t lie!
One question that arose in my mind after I invested more brains than I should have in the film, is this: If Alec was a Healer all along, why was his presence unable to cure his own twin brother Charlie, who also died of cancer?
The film never really explains that, but the only plausible explanation would be that his powers started manifesting once he came to live in Nova Scotia. Probably that is the reason for Uncle Raymond’s strange request to Alec to spend a year in the town.
3. Is The Healer a True Story?
No. The characters are inspired by real people, but in no way is it a true story. It is a tribute to actor-philanthropist Paul Newman, who is also an inspiration for the character of Alec.
The character of Abigail was inspired by a girl from Nova Scotia who lost her life to cancer. But, that’s about it. The film simply suggests in a philosophical way that spending time with the sick can do much more than we can imagine. Especially if you’re a rich white straight man!
The credits of the film go on to declare that “healers do exist”, which probably referred to people who contribute to charity or otherwise help people in their own way. It is a tribute to Paul Newman, who dedicated his life to working for the welfare of children, so this way, the film stresses on the power of charity.