Braid Movie Explained (Plot Analysis & Ending Explained)

Hi, this is Barry, welcome to my site, and this article is about Braid, a psychological thriller written and directed by Mitzi Peirone. The plot is centred on three women. Two of whom are drug dealers on the run who decide to take refuge and rob their childhood friend’s place to pay back the drug lord. Things take a crazy turn when they are forced to play a make-believe game by their friend and reality blurs. Braid’s cast has Madeline Brewer (also in Cam), Imogen Waterhouse, and Sarah Hay in the leading roles. The film is quite a mind job. Here’s the plot analysis and ending of the 2018 movie Braid explained, spoilers ahead.

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Here are links to the key aspects of the movie:

Braid Movie Spoiler

Okay, let’s get right to it. While we are initially led to believe that only Daphne is the crazy one, all three girls are mentally unstable and are living out a fantasy in the form of a make-believe game they have invented for themselves. We are not given any background about the three girls, all we know is that they are close friends from childhood and may have been involved in a treehouse accident where Daphne fell over. I say “may have been” because we don’t know what reality is and what fantasy is. All we know is that somehow, the three girls began living by themselves and started playing this endless make-believe game, continued it well into their adult years, and possibly old age. Basically, the majority of what we see in the film is not real.

Director, Mitzi Peirone, has this to say about her film:

And I started thinking about kids playing make-believe. Why do we have this unwritten Bible in our head that tells us we have to play make-believe as kids, to sort of rehearse life? There is no adult or parent who goes up to their children and tells them to play house now so that they can prepare for life. No, we just do this instinctual thing. Then, somehow, we stop playing make-believe to become adults. But what if we’re the dream of a dream? What if we are in the shadows of our own dreams? What if we’re part of a simulation? What if we’re part of a hallucination?

She also quotes The Matrix, a film that questions the fabric of one’s reality. Considering this, it’s quite evident that what the women are seeing and experiencing is mostly part of the artificial construct of their games.

Braid Movie Explained (Plot Analysis)

The House Rules

There are three rules to the game the three girls are playing:

  1. Everyone must play
  2. No outsiders allowed
  3. Nobody leaves

There is no drug bust.

Petula and Tilda are Daphne’s friends, and the trio has been indulging in an elaborate role-play. The only catch is while Daphne and Tilda are comfortable with their misplaced sense of reality and embrace their game full-heartedly, Petula aspires to be somebody in the real world. As a result, Petula takes on an alternate personality and ventures into the world to become someone. She wants to be an actor, but her fears of failure make her take on the persona of a drug dealer. Tilda is playing along as she knows that every once in awhile Petula decides to escape into the real world and be somebody. But her insecurities of the outside world eventually bring her right back to her safe house, Daphne’s place. Tilda and Daphne have no such conflict in their minds, they have written off the outside world and are happy role-playing all life long.

There is no train.

The train is part of their toys, and Tilda and Petula are not actually riding one. Everything we see on the train is make-believe. We know this when Petula returns to her seat and takes out her chewing gum and sticks it under the seat. In a quick glimpse, we’re shown the underside of the seat on the train is actually the same as the sofa. Furthermore, the book Tilda is reading is the same book that Petula finds under the couch that documents each of the escapes she has tried to make from the house.

braid book train
Braid Movie Explained: The book Tilda reads on the train
old man braid
Braid Movie Explained: This old man is not real

Braid Movie Explained: You always come back, you old witch!

When Tilda and Petula arrive at their station, an old man says Petula always comes back. It’s fair to assume that his character is imagined as they might have never actually taken the train in the first place. I believe the man is a representation of a made-up person that Tilda and Daphne are using to remind Pelula that no matter how many times she tries to escape to the world outside, she always ends up coming back. This line here also indicates that the women are probably much older than they are shown to be. After this, they head to Daphne’s place and start a new round of role-playing. Tilda enters as the daughter, and Petula comes in as a male doctor. Intentionally Tilda refuses to play along initially and gets punished by having her knee bashed. I believe they are playing with toys, so the hammer was most likely not real, neither was the bleeding. This wound soon disappears.

Braid Movie Explained: What does the mailbox signify?

We’re shown Petula put in their cellphones inside the mailbox. I’d reckon the contents of the mailbox represent Petula’s connect to the outside world. Her need to leave. We don’t even know if these cellphones are real. 

The hallucinations – there is no baseball bat.

We don’t know if the women have somehow procured substance or if they always live in a state of hallucinations. But we can see that they get carried away with their imaginations and chase echos from the past. In one such trip, Petula tries to make a run for it with Tilda and gets clobbered by Daphne with a baseball bat. One doesn’t simply get up and walk it off after being smacked on the head like that, the baseball bat could have been just a toy.

There is no cop.

While we don’t know if the treehouse event was real or not, but we do know that the attending officer from then is not actually investigating anything related to Petula or Tilda. Remember, they are not even drug dealers. The cop by the name Siegel does not exist because we are later shown a small policeman doll and a set of colours named Siegel. 

siegel cop braid not real
Siegel is a made-up character

The Riddle Game.

Daphne makes Petula play a riddle game to get to the money that she’s after. This is the money that Petula plans to steal to repay the drug lord. Once she solves the puzzle, Petula tries to make a run for it with Tilda. You can see how Tilda is not very accomodating with the escape plan. She’s in on it with Daphne. Before you know it, Daphne drives by and hits Petula with her car. Again, I’m not sure if this event is real because driving over someone like that would break a few bones. Petula looked quite okay right after.

The scars are not real.

Daphne punishes both Tilda and Petula by scarring their faces. Much like the hammer to the knee and the baseball bat to the head, the knife that Daphne uses to cut Tilda’s and Petula’s faces may only be a toy. And all the wounds and blood is part of their role-play. If not, constant injuries like these would eventually lead to infections, and finally, one of them would get sick and die with no actual medical support. But the three seem to be alive and well for many years.

Braid Movie Explained: They do not kill the cop.

Daphne claims to be pregnant with the doctor’s (Petula’s) baby. Tilda laughs hysterically, but Petula jumps to action, saying she needs to do an emergency operation on Daphne. We are shown the old man informing the Siegel about Tilda and Petula, and Siegel rushes to the house and stops Tilda and Petula from killing Daphne. In return, Daphne and Tilda bludgeon the Siegel to death. Petula is asked to join in, and she does. The three then burry the severed body of the cop. Now, this event is not real. Remember, Siegel doesn’t even exist. The old man doesn’t exist. Later we are shown that the burial site has nothing when Petula digs it up.

Petula realizes everything is a made-up game.

Right after the apparent murder, everything goes back to being fancy. The girls look fresh, their scars are gone, the house looks gorgeous, and the table is filled with food. This makes you wonder if the physical appearance of the women is actually how they look… or have they projected their doll-like appearances in their minds? For all we know, they could be three emancipated old women who are just barely surviving, given how they’ve been living. We can extend this thought to question if the cellphones are real or are merely toys.

3 dolls braid
Dolls that the women think they appear like
petuna old mirror scene braid
A moment when Petuna is actually an old lady

Petula sees the ghost of the dead cop and freaks out. She runs to her mailbox to see a soft toy Petula thinks she once gave the cop when she was a young girl at the hospital. After this, she digs up the burial site and finds nothing. Petula gets back home to sit on the sofa and realizes that this was indeed her seat on the train. This is confirmed when we’re shown the sofa’s underside, which is the same as what we’re shown when Petula and Tilda are on the train. She also finds the book Tilda was reading on the train which has Petula’s various escapes documented. Daphne enters and confirms that Petula has always tried to leave and has been punished with a burn mark. Petula’s hands are full of burn marks indicating the number of times she has escaped and returned. Tilda enters to reveal that there was never a drug lord, he was imaginary. We’re also shown drawings of the various games the girls play as part of their fantasy.

drawings by the girls braid
Drawings of the various games

Braid Ending Explained

The three women appear to commit suicide while concurrently, we are shown the three of them as kids stating that they are going to go to sleep. This is the cycle of the game coming to an end, the following day will be a new round of the fantasy. The women don’t actually kill themselves. This is also part of their role-play marking the end of that round of the game.

The Braid ending shows that years have passed and the women still continue to play their game in a now dilapidating house. One can only guess how they manage to stay well, considering the condition of the utensils and what they might be eating to survive this long. Right after, we hear Tilda’s young voice, and the film comes to a close. Tilda’s youthful voice is old Daphne’s imagination, note that we’re shown an old hand ringing the doorbell. The reality is all three of them are old now and continue to endlessly live within the confines of their make-believe games.

old persons hand door bell braid
Braid Ending Explained: The old person’s hand ringing the bell in the ending
old daphne braid ending
Braid Ending Explained: An old Daphne at the end of Braid