The 15 Most Complicated Movie Endings of The 21st Century

8. Eternal Sunshine of The Spotless Mind (2004)

“Eternal Sunshine Of The Spotless Mind” is a romantic science-fiction film written by Charlie Kaufman and directed by Michel Gondry. The movie has received a lot of awards and is regarded as one of the greatest films of the 21st century.

Joel (Jim Carrey) and Clementine (Kate Winslet) were in a relationship, despite their different personalities. After they decided to separate, both of them erased each other from their memories.

The movie might seem a bit confusing, because most scenes of the film take place in Joel’s mind during his memory erasure procedure. The film returns to present day and we see how Joel and Clementine meet each other again; they have no clear memories about each other, but it’s clear that they decide to continue life together.

Joel: “I can’t see anything that I don’t like about you. Right now I can’t.”
Clementine: “But you will.”

The film tells us what it means to be a slave to love and to be in love with all your heart. Joel and Clementine show us that it’s not a good idea to erase pain and unpleasant memories; we should get used to living with them and know our pain and memories make us the person we are in reality.


7. Donnie Darko (2001)


“Donnie Darko” is one of the most twisted and mind-blowing films of all time, directed by Richard Kelly. It’s a science-fiction psychological horror drama film with a great cast.

Donnie Darko is a teenager from Virginia. One day, he is awakened and led out of the house by a figure of monster rabbit, which he calls Frank. Frank tells him the date of the end of the world, then he hears that a jet engine has crashed into his room. Frank has an influence on him and makes Darko do cruel things, and a lot of strange and unbelievable things start to happen to him. He’s a teenager who suffers from schizophrenia and takes hypnotherapy sessions, but they are not very helpful.

This movie is very complicated and twisted. There are two timelines and viewers should watch each detail very carefully to understand the main motive of the film.

In the end, Darko reveals himself to be a hero and rescues the world. After his death, people who knew him meet each other, some of them wake up, and we can see that everything that happened in the parallel world, which they remember as a dream. This is a fascinating and incomparable moment of the film, which makes us think about our lives and the priorities we choose.

“Donnie Darko” is one of the best science-fiction films ever made, which makes us think about time we have have left, other dimensions, and the people in our world who really care about us.


6. Birdman (2014)


“Birdman” is an American satirical comedy-drama film directed by Alejandro G. Iñárritu. The film perfectly shows us an artist who is trying and working to reach perfection and to be a great artist again.

Riggan (Michael Keaton) was a beloved actor for his superhero role, Birdman. Now he is a faded star and hopes to return to his old career by working hard on his new play. Riggan often sees Birdman in himself again and imagines having telekinetic powers.

The preparation period for his work was full of anxieties for Riggan, especially after the final preview, where a nervous Riggan meets an influential critic who tells him that she hates actors like him and promises to kill his play. He gets drunk, and his desire to make a new “Birdman” film leaves him imagining himself flying over the streets of Manhattan.

There is also a very symbolical moment regarding a jellyfish, which represents his ordinary will to continue living. In his confession, Riggan talks about his attempt to commit suicide by drowning, but the jellyfish drove him out of the water. Lately, the jellyfish lies dead on the beach, representing him losing his desire to live.

Although it’s not difficult to understand every moment in the film, the ending is still a little bit confusing for viewers. After shooting himself in the head on stage, we see Riggan in a hospital. His daughter is there as well, and while she is absent for a moment, he sees birds in the sky, climbs onto the window, and disappears.

We see his daughter watching the sky and bursting into tears. The main question is: Did Riggan die on the stage, or did he survive the shot and die in the hospital? It’s up to viewers and that is one of the most amazing features of the film.

“Birdman” is one of the most memorable and astonishing surreal movies of our time. It has themes and motives from real life, which are carried out in surreal and fantastic actions, which make the film unbelievably impressing.


5. Memento (2000)


“Memento” is a psychological thriller film directed by Christopher Nolan with a highly original and complex plot. While watching the film, each viewer should pay attention to the film structure. The film is presented in two timelines: one in color and another one in black-and-white. The color sequences are alternated with black-and-white sequences; chronologically, the black-and-white sequences come first, and the color sequences come next.

Leonard (Guy Pearce) suffers from anterograde amnesia, and he also suffers from short-term memory loss in every five minutes. He was injured when he was attacked by two men who killed his wife. Leonard starts his investigation using Polaroid photographs and tattoos to remember everything.

Nevertheless, the ending of the film reveals Leonard’s real story, though it’s still very complicated and many questions remain. Who really attacked Leonard? Is everything we see or remember real? The movie received many awards, including Oscar nominations for Best Original Screenplay and Best Film Editing. It’s a movie that needs to be watched more than once.


4. Shutter Island (2010)

Shutter Island

“Shutter Island” is a psychological thriller film based on a novel by Dennis Lehane and directed by Martin Scorsese. The film is about Marshal Edward “Teddy” Daniels (Leonardo DiCaprio), who goes to investigate one of the patients missing in the Ashecliffe Hospital for the criminally insane on Shutter Island. Daniels and his new partner meet a lot of doctors, and strange and twisted things start to happen in their life.

The movie makes us think about a lot of things and it has very complicated and significant ending. We think that the film is easy to understand before we see the end scene, and as Scorsese said: “This film will make double the income because people will have to see it a second time to understand what happened the first time.”

The decision regarding what really happened to Daniels is up to each viewer. We think of details that prove whether he was really mad, or if the doctors made up everything to make him think so. We can’t deny these theories and that’s one of the magical things about the film. Undoubtedly, “Shutter Island” is one of the most mesmerizing and complicated films of the 21st century.


3. Mr. Nobody (2009)

Mr Nobody

“Mr. Nobody” is a science-fiction drama film written and directed by Jaco Van Dormael, and is one of the most complicated films of all time. Each viewer is left feeling confused while watching the movie, because it doesn’t seem logical or chronological. Conditionally, we can separate the film into three parts: Nemo’s life with his mother, Nemo’s life with his father, and the prologue. The movie has mesmerizing visual effects and very beautiful and touching love scenes between lovers, and between parents and their children.

Nemo’s (Jared Leto) stories seems very strange and unrelated until the ending, when 118-year-old Nemo (a name meaning ‘nobody’ in Latin) explains that there is no young Nemo and his stories; they are just fragments of the 9-year-old boy who was forced to make an impossible choice regarding which option is better: stay with his mother or his father. Nemo decides not to make a decision at all and runs away.

“Mr. Nobody” is about the choices we make in life, and how the big and little ones can affect the way things turn out, and if it even matters what choice or direction we choose. The film is absolutely thrilling and it helps viewers imagine things they have never thought to imagine. Planning a day is a good idea, but if we plan everything in our life, we will miss the beautiful chaos of it all and never know what life prepares for us.


2. Caché (2005)


“Cache” is a bizarre and mind-blowing film by Michael Haneke about an ordinary French family living quietly, until they receive tapes of the exterior of their house. Georges (Daniel Auteuil) seems very nervous and troubled because he has no idea who could have sent them. He starts investigating and finds Majidi, who lived with him when they were children, because his parents were killed in a Paris massacre.

Georges was jealous of him and was the main reason his parents sent Majidi away from their house. He has doubts that the tapes were sent by Majidi to get revenge on him, but unexpectedly, Majidi commits suicide and we meet his son. We see a lot of people in front of the school, and then Georges and Majid’s sons meet each other in the end. It seems very confusing, because they should not have known each other.

The ending scene is the reason why viewers have suspicions that the tapes were sent by Georges and Majid’s sons, but we can’t say exactly why. That’s the main distinctive feature of the film – we never get a clear answer for the question that appears while watching the film.

It shows us that we can’t always have an opportunity to know everything in life, and to answer all of our questions; as Haneke said: “You can never be sure in life, as well.” “Cache” makes us feel the pain of characters differently, and strange and unforgettable feelings remain after watching the film.


1. Enemy (2013)

“Enemy” is directed by Denis Villeneuve and is based on Jose Saramago’s novel “The Double”. There are also similarities between the film and Dostoevsky’s novel “The Double”.

Jake Gyllenhaal plays two roles at the same time. Adam is a history professor, who has a passionate relationship with Mary. Anthony is an actor who has a pregnant wife, Helen, and miraculously looks like Adam. During a meeting at a hotel room, Adam realizes that Anthony is his doppelganger.

The film appears challenging and sometimes confusing, but we can sort it out if we watch every detail very carefully. Sometimes it’s very difficult to find out which one is Adam and which one is Anthony; however, Anthony wears a wedding ring and dresses a bit differently.

We start having doubts that they are the different sides of the same person when Adam’s mother tells him to give up imagining himself as an actor and advises him to continue his career as a professor. Confusion climaxes when Helen asks Anthony about the lessons at school. So which one is real: Adam or Anthony?

Symbolism plays an important role in the plot development. Adam teaches the students what it’s like to live under a totalitarian state without knowing it, but he cannot see the web that has overtaken the sky of the city and he has already gotten stuck in it. Spiders and their webs symbolically signalize Adam’s temptations; they appear when he does wrong things. That’s the reason why we see the giant tarantula after he has seen the key of the underground club with naked women.

Adam tries to solve all of the webs in his life like all of us do, and tries not to make the same mistakes, but sometimes “you can’t control coming from the subconscious … they are the dictator inside ourselves.”

Author Bio: Mariam is in her third year at Tbilisi State University studying Business and economics. She has written and published several novels. She’s working as a project manager too.