Every Breath You Take Explained- Beware Of Handsome Strangers And Dangerous Toe Picks
The world’s most famous stalker song is the perfect title for the predictable thinker Every Breath You Take. Although you will likely guess the twist ending long before the third act, the film is worth watching. Phillip, Grace, and Lucy are barely speaking after a family tragedy. Each member of the family is dealing with the death of their family member differently. Phillip has returned to work way too soon and thrown himself into his patient’s personal problems. Grace swims hours of vigorous laps in the pool and shuts out everyone. Lucy has taken the sullen teenager route and got expelled from school for doing drugs. Instead of pulling together, they are actively pulling away.
The cast is stellar. It is far better than it should be, considering this film idea has been sitting on a shelf since 2012. Phillip, played by an always emotive Casey Affleck, slinks his way through most scenes vacillating between smug intellectual indifference and bewildered anger while Michelle Monaghan’s Grace is wounded and broken. Daughter Lucy, a superb India Eisley(I Am The Night), is a ball of pent-up frustration and sadness she barely understands. This nasty cocktail of isolation, resentment, and silence provides the ideal entry point for Sam Claflin’s James to enter the picture and take full advantage.
Claflin’s chiseled features almost make you not care if he is a psycho killer. He smoothly moves from mother to daughter, wreaking havoc. He is the smooth-talking interloper with all the right moves. Claflin plays bonkers well and especially excels when the mask is dropped, and he is allowed to go wild. Even then, his perfect face never loses its beauty. Taking a page from Sleeping With The Enemy, Crush, and Fear Every Breath You Take only works if we empathize with the “good guys” while hating and being attracted to the “bad guy”. Claflin achieves both.
Phillip is a therapist treating Daphne, a troubled young woman in an abusive relationship. Phillip encourages her to leave her boyfriend and treats her using a radically new form of highly controversial therapy. He counsels her by divulging his own problems. The clinician in him should have realized that not only was this an obvious boundary issue for a patient and doctor to cross but that the reason it seemed like such a good idea is that he desperately needed to talk to someone himself.
We meet Phillip some time into his treatment with Daphne, and he is lecturing to a University class about his new form of treatment and the successful results. He claimed Daphne was happy, healthy, and well adjusted because of his new treatment. One night he receives a call from her that her best friend had died, and he makes her an appointment for the following day. Before the night is even over; however, the police arrive to tell Phillip, Daphne has committed suicide. This prompts James Flagg to come to town to take care of her house. James is charming, British, and very handsome. He moves in very quickly on both Lucy and Grace. Before it is all over, he has seduced both women and tried to kill the whole family. Here is everything you need to know about the wild ending of Every Breath You Take.
What happens at the end of Every Breath You Take
In the final act, James convinces Grace to get into his car to drive her to the pharmacy. Her car broke down, likely because James tampered with it. Instead of taking her to the pharmacy, he drove recklessly, almost crashing the car with her seatbelt malfunctioning. After this, he willingly checks himself into a mental facility. He convinces the doctor he will only consent to treatment if Phillip comes to talk with him. Phillip reluctantly agrees, and he goes to speak with James, who taunts him. He promptly leaves and begins a dinner party with his boss and friend. Earlier in the film, Phillip had asked his friend Stuart, Snowpiercer’s Vincent Gale, to find James’ book. It has finally arrived
A quick look at the book jacket shows James is not who he says he is. He is, in fact, Daphne’s abusive boyfriend, Alex, who blames Phillip for their breakup. Phillip further realizes James had been hinting at killing Daphne’s friend and probably Daphne. He was jealous and angry that she had dumped him. Daphne probably didn’t commit suicide; she was killed by James/Alex.
Unfortunately, this reveal comes too late as James or Alex Dalton, as we know, has escaped. He drove directly to Phillip’s house and tried to attack Lucy, who questions why he is acting so strange. Phillip and Grace race from their dinner party to their house and get there in just enough time to have a brawl with James/Alex in their deceased son’s bedroom. James/Alex almost beats all of them unconscious, but at the last minute, Grace stabs James/Alex with her son’s ice skates multiple times, and he crawls outside.
All of the clues James was really Eric Dalton
Cinematically there were only three ways this film could end. James was truly the brother and obsessed with avenging his sister’s death. He was somehow involved in the accident at the beginning of the film and seeking weird revenge, or he was Daphne’s boyfriend and obsessed with Phillip. At the beginning of Every Breath You Take, Daphne tells Phillip, her boyfriend she just broke up with thought all therapists were “charlatans and frauds Daphne also tells Phillip her boyfriend is obsessive, violent, abusive, and dangerous. In storytelling, this is the Chekhov’s gun. There is no point in mentioning it, other than justifying James/Alex’s behavior later..”
James/Alex claimed he is working on a new novel that an agent wanted to talk to him about in the states. He has limited knowledge of the process or the book he previously wrote. Lastly, the title of his published novel is Shadow Cast, which is often used to describe when something negative happens to a positive experience or outcome. As in a shadow or darkness fell over something.
Whether he is an obsessed brother or boyfriend, the fact that he had so many intimate details about Phillip, Grace, and Lucy should have been a red flag to everyone. The only thing James/Alex was telling the truth about was her journal. She wrote everything about her sessions with Phillip down, and James/Alex read them. Likely, he did this while still dating her and later when he broke into her house, claiming to be her brother.
Whether her brother James or ex-boyfriend Alex, he is trouble. He has stalked Daphne and Phillip and laid a trap. He wanted revenge for losing his girlfriend. Every move they made, he was watching. In the end, Phillip’s therapy may have saved Daphne’s life short term, but Alex wasn’t going to go away without a fight. The altercation was an inevitability. The only surprising thing is Phillip and Grace’s son, who was able to help them from the grave. You can stream Every Breath You Take everywhere you stream movies right now.
As the TV/Streaming Editor for Signal Horizon, I love watching and writing about genre tv. I grew up with old school slashers, but my real passion is television and all things weird and ambiguous. When I’m not watching and writing about my favorite movies and series, I’m introducing my family to the wonderful world of sci-fi, fantasy, and horror. My only regret, there is not enough time in the day to watch everything.