Ned Benson, who people might remember from the 2014 feature ‘The Disappearance of Eleanor Rigby,’ seems obsessed with finding that one thing in life that might have fixed his characters’ downfall and trying to mend it. In 2024, he does a little bit of the same in ‘The Greatest Hits.’ Starring  Lucy Boynton as Harriet Gibbons, The Greatest Hits, now streaming on Hulu, uses its high-concept premise and odd ending to investigate what the human condition does to us. 

In the following article, I will explore The Greatest Hits, its array of themes, and what that ending means. Spoiler alert: please read the article at your own discretion. 

The Greatest Hits (2024) Plot Summary & Movie Synopsis: 

Harriet seems to be stuck in the past. After losing her boyfriend, Max (David Corenswet), in a car accident, she has not been able to recover from the loss. When we first meet her, she is alone in her apartment, preparing herself for something really big. She puts on a record on her turntable, sits down on the big sofa chair in the center of the room, and teleports to a time in the past. 

They say some songs are enough to take you back to the past. However, for Harriet, this seems to be more than just nostalgia. It feels like putting certain songs on allows her to time-travel to the time when she heard them for the first time with Max. However, this deliberate exercise has become so obsessive for her that, beyond putting them on herself, if she hears these songs anywhere else when she is outside, they result in instant fits where she loses complete control and is unable to come back to the present until the song stops or she literally makes the song stop in the past. 

This is the reason why, even after two years of Max’s death, she has been unable to socialize, losing old friends at the drop of a hat. Except for her gay best friend Morris Martin (Austin Crute), who somehow manages to validate her wild time-travel theory, she doesn’t have much interaction with anyone else. Whenever she goes out of her house, she is always wearing noise-cancellation headphones and is not able to manage without them. 

Why is Harriet obsessed with finding that ‘one song’? 

Harriet is completely aware that this condition is really bad for her. She knows that staying in the past (in her case, literally and deliberately) will never allow her to move on. She has been going to group therapy sessions so that she can process her grief better, but for two years, she has been teleporting herself to different parts of her life with Max so as to convince him to either not take the flight he is supposed to or take another route in their life. 

All of these attempts have been in vain, though, because Max was a very outright person who did what he wanted to do, no matter what the consequence was. However, Harriet is obsessed with finding that ‘one song’ that she and Max heard in the antique furniture shop just before he bought the big sofa chair that now sits in the middle of Harriet’s living room. She thinks that if she is able to convince him not to buy that chair, she might be able to save him. 

What happens when Harriet meets David? 

Lucy Boynton as Harriet Gibbons & Justin H. Min as David Park in The Greatest Hits (2024).
Lucy Boynton as Harriet Gibbons & Justin H. Min as David Park in The Greatest Hits (2024).

Since her attempts have all been in vain, Morris has been pushing Harriet to pursue a new person in order to get over her grief. However, her inability to communicate with anyone without keeping her headphones on has been a big roadblock. That is until she meets David (Justin M. Min) at one of her group therapy sessions. David has recently lost both of his parents and now lives with his sister Edie (Andie Ju), running their parents’ business. In spite of his sister’s constant persuasion, he doesn’t want to sell off their parents’ legacy and move on. 

Anyway, when David and Harriet meet, there’s some sort of connection between them. It’s not the one where sparks fly, but maybe their shared sense of loss and failure to move on brings them closer. David, who is into Harriet, almost instantly asks her out on a date. After the initial inhibitions and Harriet’s insistence on keeping her headphones on, the two of them hit it off. 

Things only started getting better for Harriet when she decided to unload her truth on David, telling him that she time-travels. David is taken aback by this realization or her instance to keep visiting and revisiting her dead boyfriend and decides to stay away. He just feels like someone who believes in time travel and fixing the past can’t be the right fit for him, at least not in the condition he is in. However, he realizes that he can’t be the one judging her for doing something like this when he himself is unable to let go of his parents’ shop. 

Does Harriet really time-travel, or is it in her head? 

So, both David and Harriet, in spite of their insecurities and ‘red flags’, decide to take their relationship seriously. That is until, one day, David decides to take Harriet to her parents’ shop. On entering the shop, Harriet realizes that she has been there before, and it’s the same antique shop that Max bought his chair from. 

She requests David to show her all of her parents’ records. This is where Harriet finds that ‘one song’ (Mozart’s Fantasia in D Minor) that she has been trying to find for so long. She convinces David that she just wants to do this one last thing, and she needs his support for it. She tells him that she can prove to him that she time-travels and asks him to find the best hiding spot in the shop. 

After putting the record on, Harriet goes back in time to the moment when Max buys the chair, after which the accident happens. She tries to convince him, but Max is adamant and doesn’t listen to her. So, instead of trying beyond her capability she decides to leave a note for David and comes back to the present. David finds the note in the desk drawer in the shop, proving that Harriet can actually travel in time and that it’s not a made-up theory in her head. 

The Greatest Hits (2024) Movie Ending, Explained:

Does Harriet manage to save Max?

Lucy Boynton and David Corenswet in THE GREATEST HITS. Photo by Merie Weismiller Wallace, Courtesy of Searchlight Pictures. © 2024 Searchlight Pictures All Rights Reserved.

Their relationship goes on for a while, but when one of her spells lands Harriet in the hospital, she decides that she needs to put an end to her grief. She sits down with David, explaining how all her efforts have been in vain because she has been trying to change Max’s decision. Instead, she wants to go back in time one last time and change her own behavior. She promises David that they will both try to look out for one another in the new timeline they end up in. 

So, Harriet travels back to the time she first met Max at a music festival. In spite of knowing that changing this would entail her never being able to meet David, she chooses not to let her relationship with Max go beyond their casual interaction. This means that the two of them never date, and Max doesn’t die. 

The movie moves forward in the new timeline, where Harriet pursues her career in music and becomes a famous music producer (we can see her arranging for Nelly Furtado, yes, THE NELLY FURTADO HERSELF). We also briefly see Max with his girlfriend alive in the new timeline, which basically means that the two of them never get into a relationship. 

The ending of The Greatest Hits finds David and Harriet standing next to each other, enjoying a concert that they are at. The two of them briefly look at each other, and even though they don’t recognize each other, we can see a sense of spark between them. This signifies that if David and Harriet are meant to be together, they will be together, no matter what changes Harriet’s decision made to the space-time continuum. 

The Greatest Hits (2024) Movie Themes Explained: 

Trauma about reliving the past over and over

The film uses time travel as a tool to explain how a person who has lost something is forced to live and relive moments of time in their life. Trauma is something that keeps nudging you back to a place that your decisions and brains can’t fix. However, you can’t help but live and relive this moment over and over until, slowly, the sadness of it all turns into forgetfulness. For Harriet, the trauma has lasted for more than 2 years. The reason, even though not made explicitly clear, must be her wish to fix something that can’t be fixed. 

We often get into relationships that break because we believe that we can change certain things about the person in front so that it meets our expectations. This is what Harriet tries to do throughout the movie by going back in time. However, she is only able to resolve everything, including her trauma, to an extent by fixing a decision that she made and not Max. 

Survivor’s Guilt

One of the main themes in The Greatest Hits is the idea of not being able to move past your trauma because of survivor’s guilt. At some point in the film, Harriet claims that she is unable to get into a new relationship after losing Max because she feels like she would be betraying him. This is a classic case of what survivor’s guilt does to a person. 

Since Harriet was also in the car with Max when he died, she sort of blames herself for not being able to save him. Now that he is dead and she is alive, she suffers from survivor’s guilt that doesn’t allow her to move past that time of her life. 

Similarly, while David’s case doesn’t completely come under survivor’s guilt, one of the reasons why he can’t move on in his life is because he thinks he owes it to his parents to keep their legacy alive. He can’t let go of their shop because he feels if he sells it off, the last remaining memories of his parents would be gone and he can’t seem to get himself to that point. 

Moving on from tragedy

Moving on from tragedy is one of the most difficult things a human being can do. However, as Harriet summarizes in one of her dialogues, Moving on is one of the most terrifying and amazing things a person has the capability to come to do.

As the characters in the film come to terms with their loss and move on, we also see a part of them dying. While the film uses time travel to show us this transition, moving on from tragedy is like losing a part of oneself. While that part doesn’t exactly die, we become new people when we move past that barrier. 

Read More: Everything Coming to Hulu in April 2024

The Greatest Hits (2024) Movie Trailer

The Greatest Hits (2024) Movie Links: IMDb, Rotten Tomatoes, Wikipedia
The Greatest Hits (2024) Movie Cast: Lucy Boynton, Justin H. Min, David Corenswet
The Greatest Hits (2024) Movie Genre: Drama/Romance | Runtime: 1h 34m
Where to watch The Greatest Hits

Similar Posts