The 'Life Itself' Ending Has So Much Going On That It'll Make You Dizzy
Spoilers ahead. The new movie Life Itself, which comes out Sept. 21, will bring more than a few tears to viewers' eyes. For a film which includes the word "Life" in its title, the Oscar Isaac and Olivia Wilde-starring movie sure has a lot of death in it. Not only does the movie include a lot of shocking and hope-crushing accidents, but it also has a lot of seemingly disjointed stories. As tragic as the many deaths in Life Itself are, the movie's ending ties things up with a surprising twist about its different chapters, which actually told the stories of two families joining together.
Seeing as the movie is written and directed by This Is Us creator Dan Fogelman, the fact that every person is connected in Life Itself isn't a massive surprise. After all, the pilot episode of This Is Us includes the shocking twist that the three people turning 36 all happen to be siblings (two are twins and another is adopted) whose parents are the couple you see in separate chapters, going to the hospital. Similarly, Life Itself's ending reveals that the narrator of the movie is the daughter of the two kids whose lives intercepted years ago during a bus accident.
The bus accident that killed the narrator's grandmother, Abby (Olivia Wilde), intertwined with the narrator's father, Rodrigo (Alex Monner), who happened to be on the bus that killed Abby. It turns out that Life Itself tells a multigenerational story of one family, but it all seems to take place in the present time.
Before you even meet Rodrigo and his wife, Abby's daughter, Dylan (Olivia Cooke), Life Itself tells the story of Dylan and Rodrigos' parents. Both stories have as much heartwarming romance as they do tragic endings. First, the movie portrays Will (Isaac) and Abby (Wilde) falling in love. You see all of it through Will's retelling of the story to his therapist (Annette Bening). It's clear that the romantic tale that Will tells comes to a tragic end, so you already know that the Will you see in the therapist's office exists later in time than the love story between Will and Abby.
As it turns out, Will and Abby didn't break up due to Will's overzealousness, but instead Abby got pregnant and they'd expected to spend their lives together. Shockingly, Life Itself portrays Will seeing his pregnant wife get hit by a bus, and it's not until the end of the movie that you realize that the boy who later marries Will and Abby's unborn child from the bus accident had actually somewhat caused the accident by distracting the bus driver. Will and Abby's story becomes all the more tragic when the movie takes a shocking turn and shows Will standing up in his therapist's office and shooting himself in the head.
Fortunately, the story behind Rodrigo's parents' romance doesn't have quite as shocking of an ending, though it's still quite sad. After Isabel (Leia Costa) and Javier (Sergio Peris-Mencheta) fall madly in love in Spain, they move to New York City where Isabel later becomes sick and dies. Those aren't even the only deaths from the movie, nor are those the only generations. Not only are the narrators' grandparents' love stories told in Life Itself, but Will's parents (Jean Smart and Mandy Patinkin) also play big parts in the film.
The fact that all of Life Itself seems to be happening at once rather than over the span of what can presume is over 50 years makes the movie's ending somewhat stupefying. You'll definitely need to stay seated in the theater after the film ends to try to figure out exactly what story you just watched, but at least that will get your mind off of the horrible bus accident.