Warning: Light descriptions of self harm and spoilers for the end of All The Bright Places will be discussed in this article.
If you've reached the end of Netflix's new movie, All the Bright Places, you’re probably a bit weepy. The movie, adapted from the book by the same name, tells the story of Violet (Elle Fanning) and Finch (Justice Smith), who come together over their past traumas and embark on a school project that takes them across Indiana. Along the way, they try to discover more about themselves and each other, but they, unfortunately, aren't able to handle everything together.
The Meaning Behind Finch's Rock
When we first meet Violet at the beginning of the movie she’s working through her emotions following the sudden death of her sister in a car accident — and because of this, she refuses to ride in cars anymore. Finch comes across Violet early one morning when she’s perched on the side of a bridge, thinking about jumping (it also happens to be her sister’s birthday). Finch talks Violet down and then slowly begins to break down the walls she’s put up. After they’re assigned a class project to visit notable sites in Indiana, they really strike up a friendship, and eventually, a relationship.
But, this is all done while they’re out on the road, never at school. Finch comments that Violet is a different person at school, but this doesn’t stop him from trying to connect with her. One day, Violet goes to her locker to find that Finch has left her a rock with the words “your turn” on it. Violet questions what this means and Finch explains, “That’s a reminder that sooner or later you’re going to have to get back into the world all by yourself. But I’m pushing you for now.”
And he does. He pushes her to be brave again (and ride in his car), and also experience life and all that it has to offer. This rock ends up being incredibly important because it’s what Finch leaves behind for Violet after he dies by suicide. It's the last word she receives from him.
All along, Finch has been dealing with his past abuse and suicidal thoughts, and after an intense fight with Violet, he disappears for a stretch of days. Violet’s dad suggests that she got out looking for him, and Violet finds all of Finch’s belongings by a lake they used to swim in. In one of his pants pockets is the rock that says “your turn.”
How The End Of All The Bright Places Changed
With this, Violet knows that Finch is gone and that he’s no longer going to push her — she’s got to do it herself and learn to live her own life once again. Violet later gives the rock to Finch’s sister Kate (Alexandra Shipp), and by this point, the words are a little faded so it’s clear she’s held the rock close to her for some time. The movie ends with Violet giving a presentation on her project with Finch, explaining that even though he was suffering, he helped her grow and see that there are many “bright places" (hence the title).
Because you’re probably wondering, this ending is a little bit different from the book ending. On the page, Finch disappears for a much longer time and actually sends Violet a note before his death. It's that note, rather than her father's urging, that leads her to the lake.
There are a handful of other small differences, but regardless, both the movie and the book end largely the same way: Finch passes away and Violet learns how to move on. If you’ve just finished the movie and are planning on following it up by reading the book, or vice versa, you'll need just as many tissues at the ready.
If you are thinking about suicide, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255) or the Suicide Crisis Line at 1-800-784-2433.