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Ending Explained: Hope and New Beginnings in What Happens Later

What Happens Later is a romantic comedy movie directed by Meg Ryan. It stars Meg Ryan and David Duchovny. The movie follows two exes who meet at an airport during a snowstorm. It was released in 2023 by Bleecker Street.

Quick Plot Summary

Willa and Bill, who used to be in a relationship, meet at an airport by chance. They both have important things happening in their lives, like Willa wanting to meet her daughter she gave up for adoption and Bill dealing with family issues. Despite their past, they share memories and moments together while stuck at the airport due to a storm. In the end, they part ways but exchange meaningful gifts and gestures before catching their flights. It’s a story about second chances and finding closure.

Ending Explanation

The ending of What Happens Later is all about hope and new beginnings. Willa and Bill, after spending unexpected time together due to a storm, part ways with a deeper understanding and renewed perspectives on their lives. Here’s what it means:

  1. Personal Growth and Closure: Both Willa and Bill have grown from their past and present experiences. They’ve opened up about their regrets, dreams, and the challenges they’re facing. This unexpected reunion helps them find a sense of closure from their past relationship and encourages them to face their current life problems with a new mindset.

  2. Encouragement to “Just Try”: The phrase “just try” becomes a significant message between them. Bill writes it on the back of a card instead of his phone number, echoing earlier advice. It symbolizes the idea that taking a chance, even when outcomes are uncertain, is valuable. For Willa, it’s about meeting her daughter, and for Bill, it might be about reconnecting with his daughter Rose or fixing his marriage.

  3. Future Connections: Their exchange of gifts (the rainstick and the card) and the final kiss signify that their connection remains strong, even if they are moving on to different parts of their lives. The heart formed by the contrails of their departing planes symbolizes love and connection that persists through distance and time.

  4. Hope for Reconnection: The ending leaves open the possibility of Willa and Bill reconnecting in the future. Even though they couldn’t exchange phone numbers, their mutual encouragement and the symbolic heart suggest that their story might not be over yet.

In summary, the ending of What Happens Later is about moving forward with hope, trying despite fears of failure, and maintaining connections that matter, even as life takes individuals on different paths.

Similar Movies

If you enjoyed What Happens Later and are looking for similar movies that blend elements of romance, comedy, and the theme of rekindled relationships or chance encounters, here are some recommendations that capture a similar spirit:

  1. Before Sunrise (1995) – Directed by Richard Linklater, this film follows two strangers who meet on a train and spend an unforgettable night exploring Vienna together. It’s the first of a trilogy, celebrated for its dialogue and exploration of love and connection.

  2. Serendipity (2001) – A romantic comedy directed by Peter Chelsom, starring John Cusack and Kate Beckinsale as two individuals who meet by chance while Christmas shopping in New York and feel an instant connection, leaving their future to fate.

  3. Lost in Translation (2003) – Directed by Sofia Coppola, this film stars Bill Murray and Scarlett Johansson as two Americans forming a bond after meeting in a Tokyo hotel. It’s a more melancholic take on unexpected companionship and understanding.

  4. The Terminal (2004) – Directed by Steven Spielberg and starring Tom Hanks, this film involves a man trapped in an airport due to a bureaucratic issue, which leads to unexpected friendships and a gentle romantic subplot. It shares the airport setting with “What Happens Later.”

  5. Before We Go (2014) – Directed by Chris Evans, who also stars alongside Alice Eve, this film follows two strangers who meet by chance in New York and spend the night together trying to help one another face their personal dilemmas, creating a deep connection in the process.

  6. One Day (2011) – Directed by Lone Scherfig and based on the novel by David Nicholls, it stars Anne Hathaway and Jim Sturgess, who spend the night together after their graduation and then meet on the same day every year, exploring how their relationship evolves.

  7. Midnight in Paris (2011) – A Woody Allen film that, while delving into fantasy, shares the romantic and nostalgic tone, following Owen Wilson’s character as he discovers a way to travel back to the 1920s every night, exploring themes of love and longing.

These films share various thematic elements with “What Happens Later,” such as the focus on relationships, the impact of chance encounters, and the exploration of love and connection against the backdrop of a significant setting, be it a city or an airport.

Reference: Wikipedia

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