If you clicked on this article then you have already seen Netflix’s newest movie i’m thinking of ending things (click the title for my review), and if you haven’t this is your last warning.
MAJOR SPOILERS AHEAD
Okay, so now that I have warned you, I can now assume that you clicked this article because you didn’t know what the fuck happened at the end of the movie. Of course, films are subjective and the viewer is always the one who decides what they get from the movie, but I am writing this in an attempt to shed a little light on some of the themes throughout the movie, and even the absolutely climactic end.
If you don’t agree with me, that is fine and I understand. MAKE THE MOVIE WHAT YOU WANT IT TO BE AND THE INTERPRETATION YOU WANT IT TO HAVE. I am just taking in my thoughts from watching the movie with the research I did behind it as well to fully come up with some sort of solution to the film at hand.
So this movie starts out, and for maybe 95% of it, it is meant to be seen from “The Girlfriends” point of view. But really this movie needs to be seen from Jake’s point of view, and not the younger version’s POV, but the older janitors.
The older janitor is the focal point of the entire film, and we can insinuate he either suffers from schizophrenic or multiple personality disorder. Jake is always the older janitor. And as the janitor, he is old and managed to not do much with his life, this includes finding any real love or happiness, which leads him to be suicidal.
So as the janitor he “makes up” the situation that is the movie, and puts in it people throughout his life that he had seen, met, watched, etc. and tried to think if he was ever capable of a happy life. He is a smart man as it was said through the movie, but his life can be seen as a failure because the thoughts in his head always managed to get in the way of himself.
The girl is likely real. She was likely actually at the bar for trivia night, but in reality, he never talked to her and she never talked to him. She is just as real as Yvonne whom the janitor watches in the movie, and he even puts Yvonne into “The Girlfriend” role to see if she would have worked out. The changes in time could be seen as him trying to find a single moment throughout his life where “The Girlfriend” could be content with being with Jake. Maybe he was looking for love, or maybe he was looking to be happy, but Jessie Buckley as “The Girlfriend” was always meant to be a stand-in for the part of his brain he wanted to be happy.
The reason “The Girlfriend’s” drawings and poems weren’t original is because they were items Jake already knew. He couldn’t think of anything original so he picked stuff he already had. That’s also why he could always hear when she said she thought about ending things. In those moments, it was quintessentially himself telling himself it will never work, I will never be happy.
It culminates in the dance, which, similar to La La Land, basically tells us the whole movie. Jake wanted a happy life. He wanted to be able to live and love and just be a happy person, but the suicidal janitor was always going to take it from him. His mind and his thoughts were always going to get in the way of him ever being truly happy, no matter how it played out.
In the end, he talks about his “greatest discovery”, which is directly pulled from A Beautiful Mind (seen in his childhood bedroom). Again, we get the continuation of him not being able to come up with anything original, but in a more symbolic way, it shows the actual schizophrenic nature of Jake. He parallels his life with that of John Nash. In terms of the movie however, I believe Jakes “greatest discovery” WAS the people sitting in the audience, hence why he said, “you are all my reasons”. His “greatest discovery” was the people he thought up in his head and created for himself in a way for him to be able to try to be happy. These people and the ideas he made about them were the only happiness he ever got.
He is now, for the first time in his life, content with who he is. The scene in which Jessie Buckley hugs the janitor shows us his happiness finally caught up with him, and even though he might not be externally happy, internally he is at peace with himself.
Jake then performs the song “Lonely Room” from Oklahoma! the musical. This piece was performed by the antagonist of the musical, Jud, in a way to show that while he might be the villain of the musical, he really just wants to love and to be loved. However, he is too crazy for his own good, and that is why it won’t work out. In Jesse Plemons’ performance, whether that was him or not, he screams “it was all a pack of lies”. This isn’t done in the original song, and I didn’t think much of it at first, but I forgot everything means something in a film. He was insinuating that everything we previously saw was a lie.
After the performance, they all clap in agreement in a way to show his life has come to an end, and he should join his thoughts away from his body. They, in a bleaker way, tell him he should finally kill himself and live with his thoughts outside of the world. The final shot of Jake shows him in the sky, fading out of existence. He is dead, and he gave his last performance. All before we see he never left the car in the snow.
It is an extremely bleak and depressing way of looking at life, but at the same time throughout all of his misfortunes, he was still able to find some bit of peace within himself that allowed him to pass on internally happy.
I don’t mean to proclaim that what I am saying is 100% fact. Films are subjective and should always be up for interpretation of the viewer. I just hope this helped to explain some of the questions in this movie and help ease any of the confusing themes that came from it. If you had a different way of looking at the movie, message me on twitter @Tberry57 and tell me what you thought of the film. Either way, I hope you enjoyed it! And, if you haven’t checked out my review click below!
Jacob is a film critic and co-founder of the Music City Drive-In. He is a member of the Music City Film Critics’ Association and specializes in the awards season. You can find him on Twitter @Tberry57.