Movies that make us think about what’s going to happen after the film fades to black are the ones that obviously really captured attention. These types of movies, while well-meaning, can be frustrating, especially when the audiences feel that they deserve more than screenwriters give them credit for.
But then again, overthinking and overanalyzing details of a film always make for a fun conversation over the dredges of your popcorn, so why not watch them? Here are a few films with open endings that left its viewers hanging—in the best ways possible:
Lost Highway, 1997
David Lynch’s contemporary film about a “wife killer” unable to cope with reality creates another persona where he tries to avoid the crimes he has committed. Throughout the film, the protagonist tried to escape from loud police vehicles that have been pursuing him down a lost highway, but whether his flashbacks are symbolic representations of guilt or inescapable reality, we may never know.
This film started the trend of crime paradox before it was even cool, with the protagonist leaving a message at the intercom of his own house—the message being the exact same one he received at the beginning of the film.
No beginning, no ending, and endless events in the film will leave you to wonder—what is true and what is fantasy?
In Bruges, 2008
This black comedy is full of bloody violence as the crime comedy that becomes a parable of purgatory due to personal guilt.
The ending scene of the film is a personal POV of Ray, who is being taken into an ambulance, his life seemingly flashing before his eyes. These flashes included characters, parts of the city he hated most in the world, and even a personal realization.
This bloodbath of a tale closes with no clear ending, and audiences will never know what’s to happen of the characters, but the life-hating antihero has found something worth living for, and we can only hope that he actually did.
Of course this film will be on the list, what more could you expect? While the films toys with the lines of dreams and reality, the characters themselves are as confusing as the plot itself.
The reality in the film is based on each of the main character’s totem, which they carry around with them and usually performs metaphysical attributes if they are left in a dream. For instance, Leonardo diCaprio’s Dom, who carries a spinning wheel, could possibly defy gravity if he is in a dream state.
He and his colleagues have to finish one last job—complicated and dangerous—and by the end, he symbolically spun the wheel as he joyously reunited with his family. Except that the viewers never really got to see whether or not the wheel stopped spinning or if it did any metaphysical things, leading to debates discussing whether or not the protagonist was actually stuck in a dream or free in the real world.
Gone Girl, 2014
Ben Affleck’s comeback film divided viewers worldwide as they discussed whether or not the hellish roller coaster actually ended on a good note.
The film centers around a couple seemingly perfect from the outside—but not behind closed doors. Nick came home one day to find that his wife has gone, and in the search to bring her back, he realized Amy was not all that she seemed. She came back one day, though, but there is a horrific tension to her return. For instance, her psychotic way of trapping her husband—and herself—in a type of marriage everyone would want to get away from.
Yes, Amy tried to frame Nick and let everyone think that she’s dead, but her return means that they are both trapped in a situation they both didn’t want to be in. The symbolic parallelism of the first and last cuts of the film also begged to ask the question: will the pretend disappearance become a cycle in a loveless marriage that Nick and Amy can’t ever run away from?
These are only few of the films that could really get its viewers to think, so if you’re up for films that make you scratch your head in wonder, these are a few ones that you could start on your movie playlist.