The Tearsmith Ending, Explained: Do Nica and Rigel End up Together?

Image Credit: Loris T. Zambelli/Netflix

Based on the international bestseller of the same name by Erin Doom, Netflix’s ‘The Tearsmith,’ also known as ‘Fabbricante di Lacrime,’ is an Italian romance film directed by Alessandro Genovesi that dives deep into the lives of teenagers recovering from the bruises of past tragedies and the horrors of growing up in a harrowing orphanage. Genovesi’s previous works, such as ‘My Big Gay Italian Wedding’ from 2018 and ‘7 Women and a Murder’ from 2021, may be of stark comparison to ‘The Tearsmith’, but the Italian director has skilfully adapted the source material into a fine feature for the big screen. A moody and dark yet soulful tone surrounds the gripping narrative of an adolescent romance unlike any other and presents viewers with a few queries that may linger even as the credits start to roll. SPOILERS AHEAD

The Tearsmith Plot Synopsis


The film revolves around Nica, an orphan who tragically loses her parents in a fatal accident. She is taken to an orphanage that’s run by a strict and cruel warden who treats the children with disdain and neglect. There, Nica is introduced to Rigel, the warden’s star child. The two begin developing a friendship that is always pushed away by Rigel despite his concern for her.

At seventeen, Nica is finally adopted by a loving couple. However, she is surprised to see that they have also adopted Rigel. Living under the same roof, the two who care for each other gradually unravel their previously hidden romantic emotions towards each other while adjusting to the new life they have been presented with and the complexities it produces for their relationship.

Nica and Rigel Get Their Fairytale Happy Ending

Nica is placed in an orphanage at a young age after her parents pass away in a fatal car accident. She has no other option but to abide by the many rules of the institution presented to her by the warden, which is “order, respect, and obedience.” Along with the few other friends she makes at the orphanage, she is introduced to Rigel, a peculiar boy who seemingly is the warden’s favorite.

Over time, she realizes that her new home is a hell hole run by the devil herself, Margaret, the warden. She and the rest of the children would call the orphanage “The Grave” because of this. Apart from the solace of having a handful of friends, she is gradually trained to be devoid of emotions and is hardened by the teachings and beatings of the warden. Children at this institution are treated with neglect and very rarely experience the joys of childhood. While Rigel got a separate set of privileges, Nica felt unwanted and invisible.

During her formative years, she was introduced to the legend of the Tearsmith, a tale of an illusive character present in a world where no one is able to cry. Enveloped in emptiness, the souls of this world are deprived of any emotion, and in the midst of them lived this shadowy creature of solitude. He could contrive tears for those who wanted them. Many would go to him pleading to make them cry so that they could feel even the slightest emotion. They would cry with fear, anguish, sorrow, anger, and pain, as it was the only way people could cry in this world. Beneath these tears were pent-up emotions of “burning passions and disillusionment.” To Nica, she had become a part of this legend.

At seventeen, she is adopted by a loving couple, Anna and Norman Milligan, who are surprisingly also interested in Rigel, known as “The Star of the Grave.” With his admirable piano skills and nonchalant behavior, the boy will now share a roof with someone he ideally doesn’t want to interact with, and the feeling is mutual. As they adjust to their new surroundings, Nica, a loving soul at heart, reaches out to Rigel, but he wants nothing to do with her advances. He tells her to stay away from him. Here, we see an underlying hidden connection between the two, which gradually becomes evident.

As the story progresses, we get to know more about Nica and Rigel’s relationship at the orphanage and how he secretly cares for her. While it is evident that Nica has always cared for Rigel, their then-concealed emotions toward each other are now on display. Nica and Rigel constantly seem to have awkward yet steamy encounters whenever Nica goes to check on Rigel, but he always pushes her away, saying that he’s “the wolf” in her fairytale. Nica, on the other hand, thinks otherwise.

Nica and Rigel’s physically intimate interactions become more apparent on several occasions. From Rigel’s night of having a fever to their intimacy on the piano throne, the couple becomes more and more physically close. When Lionel tells Nica that he is in love with her, Rigel’s jealous anger escalates, and he assaults him. Rigel has become protective of Nica, but at the same time, he seems very distant from her. He tells her to stay away from him because if she doesn’t, he won’t be able to stop himself. In Nica’s case, she cares for Rigel and wants to be with him, but she knows they’re damaged from their past. However, their pasts have bound them together.

As the film moves forward, Rigel tells his foster parents that he no longer wants to be a part of their family after the couple agrees to adopt them formally. In the back of his mind, he is doing this for Nica to give her a good life away from him, as he still thinks he’s the villain of her story. Meanwhile, Nica is invited to the school dance with her new friends from school. At the dance, she encounters an apologetic Lionel, who seemingly just wants to be friends this time. He takes her to an empty classroom, where he tries to have his way with her.

Rigel, who has already told the Milligans he’s leaving, appears from nowhere and steps in to stop Lionel from going further, resulting in a fight between them. Lionel escapes, and the couple is left in privacy to express their love for each other physically. Here, all their inhibitions are lifted as they completely embrace each other and profess their love. In the following scene, Rigel and Nica are forced to jump off a bridge when Lionel threatens to run over them with his car.

Nica wakes up in the hospital with her friend Adeline and foster mother Anna by her side. She immediately starts asking about Rigel and is informed that he survived the fall but is in a coma. Nica cannot take no for an answer, as she’s told that his custody has been transferred back to Margeret. Unable to see Rigel, Nica makes it a point to do anything to be with her love again.

Nica takes Margeret to court, accusing her of all her wrongs, explaining how she terrorized her childhood and the upbringing of several other orphans, including Rigel. She explains that Rigel was told he was a villain, which made him push her away every time she tried to get close to him, even though he deeply cared for her. Her words convince the court of Margaret’s evil actions as Nica stands victorious. She runs back to Rigel, who is still in a coma, and tells him that he is her Tearsmith, who brought back all of her suppressed emotions to life. Hearing this, Rigel’s consciousness returns as Nica embraces him.

From the time they met as children in an orphanage, Rigel and Nica were destined to be with each other. They suffered through immeasurable hardships, but those wounds bound them together. While they felt they were damaged and unwanted, time had made them understand that they deserved love from each other and the people around them. The final scene is of the couple in a distant future with a child of their own, living the happiest lives they could have ever imagined. Their bond and family are proof of their will to love each other and their understanding of each other’s pains. The film confirms that the couple ends up together and lives happily ever after.

What Happens to Margaret? Does She Go to Prison?

Margaret is the cruel and tyrannical warden of the orphanage where Nica and Rigel grew up. She neglects taking care of the children and forces her hand on them even when they make the slightest error. The penultimate sequence serves as the redemption for Nica and all the other children who lived under the warden’s harsh rules. Here, Nica speaks out about the terrible things that they had to go through at the orphanage. She speaks for all the abused children who are too scared, even after leaving the orphanage, to dare defy the warden.

Nica revealed that while they were being tortured, Margaret’s star child, Rigel, witnessed from the sidelines in anguish. She explains that Margaret convinced Rigel that he was a monster, which, in turn, made him into an isolated person who was not willing to accept affection. However, Nica saw through it and realized his demeanor was all Margaret’s doing. She was and always has been the children’s worst nightmare as she wields power even after they move on with their lives.

Nica’s testimony receives a heartwarming ovation from the court, and the film confirms that she successfully defeated Margaret. This is equally confirmed when she goes to Rigel and tells him that “they won.” Margaret, being the guardian of many children in the orphanage, would be heavily charged with numerous counts of child abuse, assault, neglect endangerment, unlawful imprisonment, and cruelty to children, imprisoning her for several years, if not decades. However, we could speculate otherwise. A simple testimony like Nica’s may not have convinced the court of Mageret’s actions. The court would require other testimonies. Margaret, on the other hand, still has one testimony that disproves Nica’s claim, Peter Corrin, who hesitantly tells the court that Margeret never did anything.

Although the film confirms the orphans’ victory, in reality, it would be far from over. Margaret being apprehended would need several pieces of evidence and testimonies for the jury to consider their claim. One upper hand the kids have is that they’re minors, which itself isn’t a convincing point, but it definitely helps the jury make a decision. While we can say that it is most likely that Margaret would be charged with numerous convictions, the court wouldn’t be able to complete its proceeding in just one hearing.

Read More: The Tearsmith: Exploring All Filming Locations