Parallel Movie Ending Discussed, and Explained - a messy multiverse portal film that gets itself coming and going, simultaneously
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So, I don’t know if you are a regular here or not. If you aren’t, you got here by typing, “Just watched Parallel, what the heck happened” into your browser. (Thanks Google, I’ll take care of them from here.) But if you are a regular, you know that we discuss all kinds of movies here at THiNC. but Parallel is our sweet spot. You know, that really small budget, well acted, big idea, sort of movie? Movies that have so many ideas to them that they can be a bit hard to fully follow while you are flipping through instagram. (Please, people, just stop.) But, either way, I’m excited you are here, and I will help you both make it through to the end, and make sense of this thing. So shall we? Parallel Movie Ending Discussed, and Explained:
First, Parallel needs to be seen to really be enjoyed. It’s got some really great actors in it (though not necessarily their greatest work – but they are still very good in it). You’ve got Martin Wallström, from Mr. Robot. Georgia King, from Devs. Mark O’Brien, from Halt and Catch Fire (wait, I’ve never recommended Halt?? I suck at this job), and Arrival. You can watch Parallel on Amazon Prime right now for free.
First, I have to say that this movie… it sort of feels like it was tossed out on the curb. And dang… and also the hate this movie is garnering from Tomatoes, to Twitter, to Facebook is just unbelievable. Did they make the movie, and then couldn’t find a distributor (Covid and all that?) or just couldn’t find a buyer? The guy that directed is pretty well known in this community because he wrote and directed El Incidente, as well The Similars (which you guys have asked me to write up no less than 200 times, if not more.) The film was sold to Vertical, and they then pushed it out to digital distribution, and it released December 11th. I guess there is nothing weird about that. And yet, it feels sort of like a cast off. But hopefully we can get it the recognition that it deserves. I don’t know, maybe we are ahead of the curve. Who knows. Let’s get to it – I’ll walk through the film, explaining it as we go – and then at the end we’ll discuss it… fair enough?
Parallel Movie Ending Discussed, and Explained
The movie opens with a very strange twist, a setup, and a right hook all in one single move. We watch as an older woman, Marissa, leaves her home, and attacks… herself, disposes of the body, and insinuates herself into her other self’s life. Wait, WHAT? And with that, we get our first glimpse of the fact that this movie will be dealing intimately with the world of parallel universes, and parallel selves. And usually in very dramatic fashion. From here on out, I will refer to a non-prime character as a Name2 in order to distinguish them from their original selves. But I won’t be tracking them too closely in that the film doesn’t give us enough information to track them closely enough to number them accurately – like we could in Coherence, for example.
A little while later, a group of friends who have started a startup, buy Marissa’s abandoned house. It’s got bad feng shui, and they got a real deal on it. (The startup detail is a serious Primer homage.) Their startup – the Meter Maid is an app that allows people the ability to resell parking spots. (Such a stupid startup idea that it actually will become a thing now. I shouldn’t talk, I consulted on a startup called Circle about six months before Google Circle came out. Yeah, that was bloody. Oh, even better was the startup I was involved in for about a year as the CTO, it was Facebook for places, and we called it Stori. We were courted by Jeb Bush to move to Florida (blech – no offense to the Floridians out there). That one blew up even more dramatically when Foursquare started adding location stories and checkin comments. So, um, Foursquare you mean? Yeah, something like that.) But they need the app built by Thursday, because another competitor has promised the app by the end of the week. It’s impossible.
In their frustration, Leena (Georgia King) discovers a false wall in the house. And inside the attic space they find a mirror – a mirror that portals individuals into other parallel universes. A parallel universe with an extraordinarily similar version of themselves. The attic is even replete with a periscope into the other universe splinter in order to make sure they don’t run into their alternative version of themselves. But they also realize that there is a time dilation between here and there… 1 minute equals three hours there. (Never mind the fact that World2 should still be in the Upper Paleolithic Time Period. We aren’t going to look that closely at the obvious plot holes here.) And it is this time dilation that allows Noel (Martin Wallström) and Josh (Mark O’Brien) to crash in the attic of World2 and work to finish the Meter Maid by the next day. (And of course the inhabitants of the house wouldn’t hear them as they worked for days and days in the attic… like at all… SHHHH, you are being really annoying right now. Gah. I’m telling a story here, just listen.) After the quad sell Meter Maid, they move on to trying to figure out how the differentiation’s between the various universes matter interconnect to one another.
This diagram on the whiteboard that Noel is sketching out for us, it actually shares a lot of information really quickly. The first detail we learn from the looping timelines is that as they move through the mirror time is dilated and compacted as they move back and forth between the worlds. The second detail is that as they go through the mirror, the world that they drop into is basically random. Each time they travel they basically get a different universe, with different details and variances from their world. But each time they come back through the mirror, they snap back to their originating world. (It’s the rectangle drawing in the upper left corner if you want to investigate this detail further.) They go from World1, head out to World7, and when they come back through the mirror, they snap back to World1 again.
Got it? And, being entrepreneurial, they decide they have to figure out an angle that will give them an advantage. (I mean besides the time dilation – which has me thinking… do they age as much on the dilated side? So they could die of old age at 32? Things that make you go huh?) They begin investigating the parallel worlds, and their differences with their world. Lottery tickets don’t work. World history is basically the same. Geography and maps are the same…basically. But when it comes to the arts, things are wildly different, as illustrated by a film entitled Frankenstein with Emma Stone and Ryan Gosling. Leena also discovers Marissa’s diaries, and begins reading about her own investigations with the mirror. Meanwhile, Josh and Noel hustle to steal a million dollars and then blow it up in a parking lot while dressed as old school gangsters (Literally the only part of the film I thought they definitely should have cut. Made zero sense that these guys would steal all this money only to blow it up. And don’t worry, there were plenty of other plot holes we’ll talk about at the end…just give me a minute to get there.)
So Noel starts chasing all the new inventions in the various parallel universes that are AWOL in our world. He wants to be the Edison of his time. Leena starts re-painting the ideas in other parallel dimensions that we don’t have in our world but were a hit there. And Josh? He uses the parallel universes to hook up with an ex over and over again. How? He brings her music from her favorite band that doesn’t exist in her universe. But what about Devin? His father committed suicide after being charged on construction corruption charges that resulted in the collapse of two companies in the area.
One day, when Devin and Josh head in for an adventure, the ex’s boyfriend arrives and shoots Josh (why was Devin cool sitting downstairs while he’s getting with an ex? So stupid). Josh and Devin escape, but regardless, Josh bleeds out on the attic floor. The trio argued back and forth about what to do about Josh. Should they take him to the hospital, and to the police? Noel was too worried about people finding the portal and endangering his scientific successes. Devin takes the moral high ground, and actually believes they should be considering the life of their best friend over and above any material gain the portal might bring. But hey, what screenplay writer ever said…you know what, I’m going to have my characters do the practical thing here? Never. It’s literally never happened.
Worse, curious what the trio thought the best solution would be to the death of their best friend and partner? Yeah, you guessed it…they used chloroform, and kidnapped another Josh from another parallel universe and dropped him into their world sight unseen. Because, that was bound to work. Immediately Noel sets him up with a new job at his dream marketing firm. This gets the guy out of their hair, and allows them to get back to their highly profitable parallel universe plunderings. But Josh all but immediately starts to come unhinged. Why? Because the photos on his social media stream are unrecognizable. Hair color choices, outings and events…all unrecognizable. And he’s mentally coming unglued as a result. But, to assuage Devin’s guilt, Noel arranges to have 5k a month routed to Josh’s family. (Look, if you get me killed, and only send my family 60k a year? I’m haunting you from now to the end of eternity. That’s uncool. Really uncool. Especially when you are worth millions and millions of dollars from all these elicit escapades.)
Which brings us to Leena. After pillaging the art from the various parallel universes, she has her own show. And although it was her childhood dream come true, it wasn’t what she thought it would be in that she just felt horrible. (The movie Yesterday could take a moral cue here from Parallel… just saying.) But the big reveal here was that Devin actually came to Leena’s first show, which she thought was a disaster, and Devin actually felt was critical. He shows her that he still carries her first show’s program in his wallet, and voila, they hook up. But in the morning, he’s gone.
But, obviously, Devin has been snatched and disposed of by Noel. Did you even for a second consider any other possibility? No, you didn’t… why? Because you aren’t stupid. But this thought doesn’t cross Leena’s mind. Even when Noel tells her that they ought to try again as a couple. GAH! Anyway, about the same time, we also learn that the guy that Josh replaced at the marketing firm had a complete and utter melt down. Why? Because Noel sent him over the edge. It should be abundantly clear that Noel has a God Complex. He’s had way too much power for way too long for him to be normal anymore.
Leena, intent on finding Devin1, does some cool hacker stuff on his old phone, and finds his last location. But when she finds him, and talks to him she quickly realizes that this isn’t her Devin1… but some other Devin2 from another dimension. How? Well, this Devin2 has no recollection of sleeping with her. Yeah, that would be a bit of a tell. And even more telling was that he still had his Leena art show pamphlet in his wallet. He’d never given it to her. So Leena leaves.
Josh2 learns that Noel1? has been filing patent after patent on all the various technologies he’s been nicking from the alternative realities he’s visited. Worse, he’s been working 24/7 for weeks on end without slowing down. What is going on with him? And when Josh2 goes to the attic to investigate, he ends up in a fight with Noel who was planning on just killing Josh. But Josh wins the day when he shoots Noel. But immediately after shooting Noel1?, another Noel2? arrives and kills Josh2. Noel? also finishes off his other injured self. (Which makes me think that it was Noel1 not Noel2 that survived.) Leena1 also arrives at that same moment, and tells Leena that the two of them can take over the world together. He’s been grabbing patents of technologies created by people that have had massive life changes. For example, that’s an anti-gravity device. She tries to trick him, and kill him, but fails. But when he is just about to kill her, Devin1? returns, and shoots Noel, who then flees back through the mirror. But as he is returning to their world, Leena closes the portal, cutting him in half and ending the threat.
Leena and Devin then donate the patents for solving world hunger to the NIH, and they go on a long road trip. But when Leena goes to the bathroom, Leena47 comes through the bathroom mirror and switches with her. Devin picks up on a dropped cue from Leena, and wonders what might have happened in the bathroom… the end.
So Many Loose Threads
I enjoyed this light romp through the fantasy land of sci-fi make believe. But, woah, are there about a million dropped threads in this movie. Whatever happened to the developer at the beginning of the film? What happened to Devin’s father? And Devin’s own personal grappling with the morality of all this? And Leena? What about her questioning of her art career and her failure to do the right thing? And Josh, he eventually just came to the realization he was planted in the wrong parallel universe and was cool with that? I’m sorry, but this film had way too many ideas for its own good. Did I enjoy the core movie at its heart? Yes. But that screenplay could have had someone go after it with some massive pruning shears.
Worse, the acting talent in this film is amazing. And the material just didn’t give them enough range to work with. The only exception being Josh as he seems to be going insane after being teleported to this strange world. But otherwise, the film doesn’t take itself seriously enough. It is dealing with some pretty hefty issues. Murder, deceit, corruption, betrayal, father issues, etc., etc. There is plenty here to drive the pathos of this movie. But it sort of took a pass instead. Which is too bad. Parallel could have taken a cue from Time Lapse, an even smaller budget film, with less acting talent, and a grand slam instead of a base hit. And yet, I had fun with this movie. It’s a good laugh. It was worth talking about.
But What About the Ending??
OK, so the ending is weird. Why? Because the rules in this world state that the mirror remains mounted to the floor, and set at a perfect angle. If it tilts, it turns off. Doesn’t work. So here we see that Leena is at a gas station and the gas station mirror becomes a teleporter? What? How? Well, we know that in the space of the arts, and the clever sciences, there are lots of new and innovative solutions that come to be in different worlds. So it isn’t much of a stretch to think about another Parallel world solving the “stationary” problem for the mirror. And also, that would allow someone to periscope their way around the world, watching for opportunities to jump at just the right moment. It’s an interesting twist there at the end. But we aren’t told a lot. What do you think happened at the end? And what did you think of the movie over all? Do you think I’m giving it too hard of a time?
Edited by: CY
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