What comes around, goes around – that’s the popular saying from which I think this movie’s name was derived. In fact, the title does inform you about how one’s actions come back to haunt them in the present, which is the movie’s central theme. What Comes Around (2022), directed by Amy Redford, is both a story of passion and vengeance surrounding the lives of Anna, Beth, and Eric. It lacks the luster of a good drama that could be a conversation starter about romantic relationships between young women and older men.

It also underuses the template of Emily Dickinson’s poetry that the film starts with. However, it has its own plot convolutions that are bound to make you feel curious while watching it. If you have watched the film and are left confused about the direction it is headed in, don’t worry, we’ve got you covered below. Beware, there are spoilers ahead!

What Comes Around (2022) Plot Summary & Movie Synopsis:

We are introduced to Anna (played by Grace Van Dien) a few days before her 17th birthday as she spends time in her room talking about poetry (and causally romancing) to a boy over Facetime. This guy she has been seeing appears to be a college boy who lives 900 miles away from her, and they met over the Internet. Anna lives with her single mother, Beth (played by Summer Phoenix). When Beth comes home, she shows Anna THE ring. She is engaged to marry Tim (played by Jesse Garcia), and Anna expresses her joy over the upcoming nuptials. Anna also tells Beth that the sound from her room she heard earlier was of a conversation between her and a boy she met on the internet.

Next, Anna is in her room with her friend, Brit (played by Reina Hardesty). Brit is not paying attention to Anna, who appears to be the next-door girl in her looks and the studious one. When Anna leaves to get some coffee for Brit, Eric calls; Brit picks up the phone briefly before Anna intervenes. Anna briefly tells Brit about Eric, making him sound like a college boy in his mid-20s. That night, Anna reads poetry to Eric on a phone call and falls fast asleep afterward, showing us that she may have started getting fond of him. Sometime later, when Beth is talking with Anna about her birthday party, the latter seems engrossed in texting someone (let’s believe Eric) and not paying attention to Beth.

On the morning of Anna’s birthday, Eric facetime Anna to tell her that he has driven all the way to her home to surprise her on her birthday with a present. Anna is creeped out (as she should be) and doesn’t understand how he might have gotten to her address without telling her about it first. She is hesitant and angry at Eric, but she opens the door for him. Although Eric tells her that she looks prettier in person, Anna is mad at him and collects her birthday gift from him – a book of poems by Emily Dickinson.

The book softens her temper, and she decides to meet him ultimately. When they meet, Eric reveals that he is 28 and tells her nice things (that she is kind, caring, compassionate, a million other things that he never could be, etc.,) and soon the two of them share a hug in a parking lot before they see each other off. However, the next thing we know, they are in bed together.

When Anna wakes up, Beth has been calling for her, and she realizes there’s nothing to do but hides Eric under a pile of her blankets. Meanwhile, Beth walks into the room and asks Anna to get ready and come to the drawing because her friends are there. While Anna goes out to celebrate her birthday with her family and friends, Eric is stuck inside her room. Anna is constantly distracted by her phone during dinner with her friends (telling us that she is swooning in love with Eric). On the other hand, Eric finds a time when no one is at home (except Beth, who is showering) and sneaks out.

What Comes Around (2022) Movie Ending Explained
A still from What Comes Around (2022)

The following day, Anna tries to look for Eric, but she can’t spot him around or get a text from him. Beth tells her about the piece of cake on the plate that she may have left behind on the kitchen top, and she quickly realizes that it was Eric’s before he left the house. Anna and Eric continue to be in contact. Their relationship gets increasingly serious when, one day, Anna decides to tell Beth and Tim that she is seeing someone.

Beth is visibly taken aback, especially when she hears he is way older than her. However, Anna convinces Beth to meet him as he is waiting outside their home. When Beth meets Eric, she is in for more shock – Eric is the same person she was once in a ‘near scandal’ with when she was teaching at the Academy. She throws him out of the house without further ado. Anna is upset with Beth and not talking with her.

After showing around a house to a potential client, Beth is confronted by an angry Eric (whose real name is Jesse). We learn that Jesse and Beth may have been in a sexual and emotional relationship back when Jesse was studying at the Academy, which the administration found out, and after all these years, he wants closure. Back then, Beth had blamed Jesse for going around and creating rumors about them. In the present day also, Beth insists that he gets some help. However, it is evident that Jesse is furious at her for denying the relationship outright.

It is evident that Beth may have been lying, but the scandal destroyed Jesse’s life – he was probably thrown out of the institution and was started to be looked down upon by his own parents. Still arguing, as Beth and Jesse leave the house, Tim waits for them on the front lawn. He is the Assistant Chief of Police and threatens to arrest Jesse for harassing Beth.

However, once in the car, Beth confesses to him that Jesse’s stories were true and they really were in a sexual-emotional relationship. She ran away from it because she was married to her ex-husband back then and could not have risked it. She also sits Anna down and tells her the truth, letting her know that Jesse may have befriended Anna at the Poetry Forum online to re-enter Beth’s life and seek revenge (or confession) on her.

Who is Eric?

Eric’s real name is Jesse. He was a student at the Academy where Beth, Anna’s mother, was teaching and got sexually and emotionally involved in a relationship with her. However, when the relationship became public, Beth blamed the whole incident on Jesse and his fictional stories. This scandal destroyed Jesse’s life. We don’t know where he lives or whether he has a home or not since he is only shown driving around in his van. Jesse wants to hurt Anna and get her to confess. Therefore, he befriends Anna over the internet and plays the same game of love with her that he thinks Beth played with him all those years ago. He ultimately leaves Anna just like Beth had left him.

What happens to Anna in the end?

Anna is clearly swooning in love with Eric (read: Jesse) from the start. After she gets Eric to meet Beth, the former is thrown out of the house. This leaves Anna heartbroken. Even after she comes to learn about Jesse’s truth from Beth, Anna ends up leaving him a bunch of texts. He replies, and the both of them get back together. In fact, Anna even agrees to elope with him on Beth’s special day. However, in the end, Jesse leaves Anna and drives away alone. His goal was to hurt Anna just as much as Beth had hurt him when he was a teenager and student out of his zest for revenge on Beth.

What Comes Around (2022) Movie Ending Explained:

What Happens to Jesse in the End?

Anna is heartbroken and leaves Jesse a bunch of texts. She is seen to get back to her life and her friends slowly and steadily until Jesse replies to her text. Soon, both of them are back in a relationship together. It is finally Beth’s wedding day with Tim, and Beth is getting dressed in her house. Jesse drops in and tells her that he wishes to converse with her.

Beth initially denies confronting him, but after he tells her that he and Anna have decided to elope that night, hinting that she could lose her daughter forever, Beth agrees to have a talk with him. After all, it was her last chance to save her daughter. Beth comes clean and confesses to being in a physical and emotional relationship with Jesse at the time of the scandal, especially when they got intimate in a car.

Jesse shares his memories of Beth’s long hair from the time they spent together. But Beth says that she chopped it off that spring, probably to make it seem like Jesse was making things up in his head. After her confession, Jesse reveals that he had been taping their conversation all along, although all he wanted was a sort of closure. This piece of audio evidence was his one shot at getting his life back together. However, Anna enters the room and shares with Beth their decision to leave the house. Anna also asks Jesse to let the old things be, seeking him to forgive her mother.

Jesse lets go of the recorder, suggesting that he has listened to Anna, but leaves the house with Anna’s bags saying the words – I shall see you in a bit. Beth had spoken these same words before she had ghosted Jesse in the past. Beth is to realize that Jesse has left for good, but Anna, on finding out the truth, is inconsolable. The movie ends with Anna driving Beth to her wedding ceremony. It is evident that Jesse did get his revenge on Beth because now her life and relationships are going to be molded by the past that she has initially sought to run away from.

Read More: Fear (2023): Movie Ending Explained – Was the news of the virus false?


What Comes Around (2022) Movie Links: IMDb, Rotten Tomatoes, Wikipedia
What Comes Around (2022) Movie Cast: Summer Phoenix, Grace Van Dien, Jesse Garcia, Kyle Gallner, Indiana Affleck, Reina Hardesty, Sierra Nicole Rose
What Comes Around (2022) Movie Genre: Mystery & thriller/Romance, Runtime: 1h 23m
Where to watch What Comes Around

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