Jonathan (2018) Movie Ending Explained

Jonathan is a 2018 science-fiction drama directed by Bill Oliver. The movie is his first full-length feature film, and he’s done a great job with it. The story revolves around a man who is awake for only half the day and wakes up each morning to see a recording to fill him in on the events of the remainder of his day. Are you thinking Enemy? Well, no, it’s not the same flavour. The Jonathan cast has Ansel Elgort and Suki Waterhouse in the leading roles. It’s a light film which leaves you with a question at the end. Here’s the plot and ending of the 2018 movie Jonathan explained; spoilers ahead.

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You can skip right ahead to the Jonathan movie ending if you’re looking to know who survived, John or Jonathan.


Here are links to the key aspects of the movie:

What’s the movie Jonathan about?

The movie Johnathan is the story of a person born with a unique condition, a person born with three distinct personalities. His mother abandons him as a baby in the hospital because he wouldn’t stop crying – this is because of the three personas’ congestion in one tiny mind. I’m not sure if this can be classified as schizophrenia, where the personalities emerge over time as cognitive capabilities develop. Jonathan’s case is more complicated – this is multiple people born into one body.

Jonathan Movie: Plot Walkthrough

Who is Dr Nariman, and what has she done with Jonathan?

Dr Nariman, who adopted Jonathan (them), segregated the mind into three parts, one for each personality. She also embedded a device (behind the ear) that ensured only one persona is awake and the others are asleep. Unfortunately, the third persona (not shown in the movie) kept the mind from functioning properly. When Jonathan was 9-years-old, Dr Nariman removed the third personality; technically, that third persona was killed.

John and Jonathan: Personality Differences

The remaining two personas grow up together with a structure to their existence – one of them is in control from 7AM to 7PM, while the other takes charge from 7PM to 7AM. The two of them consider each other to be brothers. They both make recordings of their daily events to ensure the other persona is up to date with the remainder of their life.

Jonathan or J – this is the persona whose perspective we witness the film from. He has the 7AM to 7PM part of the day and goes to bed at 3PM. He is organized, has a job, abides by rules, a loner, and is insecure. Why insecure? Jonathan thinks one day his brother will find love for someone else and have Jonathan removed, as in, killed.

John – we only see him in recordings and in the final scene of the film. He has the 7PM to 7AM cycle. John is disorganized, emotional, needs to be around people, and longs for a romantic relationship. Note John is not evil; he doesn’t want to kill Jonathan. 

The situation with Elena

elena with john

John meets and falls in love with a bartender, Elena. Dr Nariman has proposed a no-girlfriend rule as it becomes difficult for a person to be in a sensible and steady relationship with only one of the personalities. But John is unable to turn off his emotions and secretly starts dating Elena.

Jonathan hires a detective to have himself followed. The detective is quite confused that the target and the client is the same person, but he takes it up since the pay is good. The detective lets Jonathan know that he has a girlfriend and gives him photos to prove this.

Jonathan and John argue about Elena and how it breaks the rule. She shows up at home and runs into Johnathan, who tries to explain that he is John’s brother. Elena is furious, assuming John is cooking up an idiotic lie to break up with her.

John stops making his recordings in the days to come. Jonathan tries to bring him back with a recording from Elena; it doesn’t work. Jonathan falls in love with Elena, and the two start seeing each other. After some time, John resumes making his videos, but Jonathan doesn’t mention Elena, who is weirdly okay with this situation of cheating on one persona with the other.

John turns suicidal

Eventually, Jonathan confesses to Dr Nariman, who instructs him to confess to John about Elena. Johnathan can’t get himself to do it, and Dr Nariman tells John. John goes ballistic and wrecks Johnathan’s office space. Looking at the security footage, people think Jonathan has lost his mind and fire him. Dr Nariman tells Elena that John has found out and she needs to stay out of Johnathan’s life. Following this, John gets hurled into depression and cuts his wrist. Realizing that he’ll also kill Jonathan, John calls Dr Nariman for help.

Jonathan with Dr Nariman

Over the days to come, John decides to be removed (or killed) as he can’t live alone like this. When Jonathan tries to talk him out of it, John threatens that he will commit suicide and kill them both.

Jonathan Movie Ending Explained

The extreme emotional swings of John cause his personality to start dominating and cut into Jonathan’s awake-time. John tries to jump off the roof by pushing into Johnathan’s conscious time but is unsuccessful. Jonathan rips out the device in the head and drops unconscious. Dr Nariman is in shock to know that Jonathan is withering away and John is thriving and she desperately tries to rectify it. Jonathan is overcome with grief knowing that he is dying and leaves for home.

Where is John (Jonathan) heading to?

John is on the way to the airport, perhaps to Scandinavia. When they were younger, John wanted to go to Scandinavia in the summer with Jonathan as they could both see the sun there. Knowing Jonathan is dying, John is possibly trying to experience his final moments with Jonathan in Scandinavia.

Who Survived in the movie ending – Johnathan or John?

ending taxi scene french radio channel jonathan

The withering Jonathan wakes up in the cab en route to the airport. But he realizes that he’s not going to make it to the terminal, leave alone Europe. Jonathan asks the cab diver to stop, and he heads to the beach to die. The cab driver, who seems to be the most understanding, compassionate human on the planet, helps the two personas say their goodbyes to each other. 

The ending of the movie Johnathan shows us that suicidal John survives, and the super-organized Johnathan dies. However, the two personas shared a single mind, and with Jonathan gone, John begins to access all of Jonathan’s memories. We know this because Jonathan’s knowledge of French is now made available to John as he understands the French radio channel. Jonathan and John don’t merge or co-exist; that would bring back their original problem, which required Dr Nariman to separate their waking hours in the first place. John basks in the sun and in Jonathan’s memories and reminisces the beautiful life they had together. The film comes to a close.

I found the concept to be well-conceived, and the execution was excellent, considering we see the plot only from one personality’s perspective. Ansel did a stellar job making us believe the two personas were brothers. But I felt the Elena thread consumed a massive part of the film, and once she left the scene, the movie rushed to a finish with one of the personalities dying and the other just leaving town. While it was a good film, the ending was abrupt. What did you think about the movie Jonathan? Do drop a line in the comments below!