STARLET Ending Explained | 4 Wild Theories


Director: Sean Baker

Date Created: 2012-03-11 00:00

Editor's Rating:

Starlet, like a lot of independent movies that I’ve seen, tends to be rawer and hit closer to humanity. It doesn’t have all of the special effects and spectacle that the big screen has so naturally, it focuses more on humans and what connects us or drives us apart. Relationships.

starlet ending explained
Starlet Ending Explained
Starlet is an independent film about a 21-year-old woman (Jane) who sparks a unique relationship with 85-year-old woman (Sadie) after finding hidden money in an item that she bought from Sadie’s yard sale.

I was left confused by the end of the movie and my mind went to extreme lengths trying to make sense of it.

If you didn’t watch the movie yet and don’t want me to spoil it for you then go do that first and then come back because we have a lot to discuss. I’ll shield your eyes with a large gif.

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STARLET Ending Explained: 4 Wild Theories

Alright, now that you made it this far let me tell you what I’ve been thinking about the end of the movie. Let me piece together my thoughts before I do research on this.

It seems as though Jane saw the grave of Sadie’s husband, Frank Perkins, who died way back in 1971 which means that Sadie has practically been alone for a long time. Then, beside his grave, we see another grave that says “Sarah Perkins: beloved daughter” who died in 1969 at about 18 years old.

starlet ending explained

Soooooo, what does this mean and why is Jane so shooketh?

My thoughts, first of all, are that Sadie said earlier that she didn’t have any kids. Turns out that she did. Also, when Sadie almost lost Starlet, she was freaking out as if having PTSD from losing important people in the past.

So with that knowledge, I present 4 theories to explain how the end of the film impacts the whole story (and please don’t take them too seriously, I know they’re outlandish):

Theory 1.

Sadie is a murderer. She killed her daughter and also killed her husband and Jane knows that she is next, that’s why she was walking towards the car so hesitantly. But at the same time, the music and the general mood of the movie didn’t seem thriller-ish so to just make that left turn into thriller-ville would be incredibly incongruent with the theme that the movie already established.

Theory 2.

In the very beginning, Jane was talking on the phone with her mom and it seemed like her mom had kind of neglected her and didn’t want to come and check up on her. So maybe, she discovers that Sarah Perkins was her mother’s sister, therefore, making Sadie Jane’s great-grandmother. So pretty much, Jane discovered that she was related to Sadie giving her an indirect connection to her mother.

Theory 3.

Something at the grave indicated that Sadie knew about the money that was stolen so when Jane was returning to the car, she was preparing to be reprimanded.

Theory 4.

After Jane notices that Sadie lied to her and actually did have a daughter, she feels an immense weight of guilt because she realizes that she probably reminds Sadie of her late daughter. She recognizes the heavy impact of their relationship, that she’s practically family to Sadie now, and she feels bad for having stabbed her in the back.

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Starlet Movie Ending: The Final Verdict

Ok, so after doing research it seems like I’ve just looked a lot deeper into it than I needed to.

The beginning and end of it is that Sadie did have a daughter who died young and Jane was finding this out at the cemetery.

In my search and failure to theorize a sensible meaning for the Starlet’s ending, I received a comment on this post that explained it in a way better than any other online article I’d seen.

The comment by Luz (which you can find in the comments section below in Spanish) is roughly translated into English (by Google) to explain the ending of Starlet as follows:

“The money belonged to Sadie’s daughter, that’s why they were old bills and that’s why Sadie didn’t know about that money. Upon learning about it from her friend, she first wants to give up traveling, but then she thinks about how fate conspired for that relationship to arise, as if it were her daughter who was taking her to Paris (her dream) and she wanted to let Jane know, that’s why she asked to leave the flowers. Jane is affected by Sadie’s actions as she’s now aware that she reminds her of her deceased daughter.”

This explanation of the Starlet movie ending made a lot of sense to me and still does, but recognizing this one little detail rewrites my understanding of the Starlet movie ending.

I got a follow-up comment from Tom, who, after brazenly laughing at our ignorance, pointed out an important detail from the movie: Sadie’s late husband was a gambler! The comment states:

“It was just the old mans forgotten stash. So sadie never knew cause he never told her or forgot he stash some gambling winnings there.”

After reading this, I had to check in with trusty ol’ Wikipedia to revisit the film’s details.

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Sadie’s money was from her gambling husband’s stash and perhaps she was able to overlook Jane’s deceit because she also lied to Jane about not having any children when she did indeed have to bury her 18-year-old daughter.

That’s the final verdict, until further notice…

Feel free to add your contributions to the comments. I need all the help I can get 😅

Another really insightful post on Reddit discussed how the film highlights the contractual, give and take, relationships of everyone in the film. Sadie didn’t make a big deal of the stolen money because she was getting a daughter in return.

Although these relationships were based on shallow ground, they still have the potential for a monumental impact on each character’s life. This outlook on the film produces more appreciation for it, although, upon first viewing, the film was not personally impactful.

In Conclusion

Starlet is a realistic and rustic film that explores humanity through an unconventional relationship, however, the concept of the film gave off the impression that it was digging deeper than it actually was. I think that so much more substance and character growth could’ve come from a chance relationship between a 21-year-old and an 85-year-old. Again, maybe I need to rewatch the film but I didn’t naturally feel the depth implied.

However, I was intrigued all throughout. The film had my attention but it left me wallowing in the shallow end of the pool. And you could see by my wild interpretations of the ending how much I wanted this film to mean so much more than it actually did.

So with that being said…

Rating: 5.8/10

How do you interpret the end of the film? Let me know in the comments below!

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Peace, love, and lots of popcorn,


When I'm not over-analyzing movies, I'm eating chocolate, belting my favorite songs, and binge-watching reality dating shows. Feel free to share your opinions with me and follow me through my social links!


  • Robert

    The most important scene in the Film is when Sadie looses Starlet. Her absolute desperation and loss is well acted and thus reveals Sadie’s desperate Loss of her own daughter via the Dog and her inability to save him. You see the complete love for the dog at the end of the scene and the end of the film as Sadie holds Starlet tight in her arms. The death of a child is one of the most horrific and painful thing a human can experience. When she lost Starlet .. she and her guilt didn’t want him in her life. Regardless of the money.. Tess and Starlet made her believe in Love and, joy and Family again. Starlet is the title.

  • Erica

    I just watched the film and am utterly perplexed, even after reading the comments. Maybe Sadie really had grown to love and appreciate Tess so much that she knew everything her spiteful roommate had said wasn’t true. Well, the part about feeling sorry for her, etc. And Sadie said she had more money than she could spend in a lifetime. Was the money in the thermos part of that? Who knows? I wish I could figure this out a little more. So they went to Paris?

    • IMO Flicks

      I can’t say anything with certainty either but I think Sadie believed the roommate. Maybe because she was already financially set, even without accounting for the thermos money, she didn’t care that Jane was using the money for herself. I presume their trip to Paris still happened but maybe with a little more transparency than they expected. Those are my tentative thoughts on what happened.. I hope this can helps! Thanks for commenting 🙂

  • Tom flyes

    Hahahaha its not the daughters. U guys are all nuts

    The ole man was a gambler he just would hide money everywhere and well he died he forgot about the money he hid in the vase

    The real stink that gives it away that its not thr daughters. Is what teenager just has 10 large sitting around in a vase. Specially when 10 k in 1969 has a value of a hair under 150k in 2023. No highschooler just runs around hiding that kinda cash in a vase. Hahahah. Funny tho. It was just the old mans forgotten stash. So sadie never knew cause he never told her or forgot he stash some gambling winnings there.

    • IMO Flicks

      LOLOLOLOL man I’m really bad at this 🙈 I’m gonna have to edit this post again. It completely went over my head that Sadie’s husband was a gambler! That makes a lot of sense. I’m literally going to add this in the review and someone else is going to chip in like actually… all of you are wrong again. Anyways, we live and learn. Thanks for commenting 🙂

  • luz

    No creo que el final esa para divagar con esas teorías extremas, creo que es demasiado sencillo el final y por ello profundo para las protagonistas. El dinero era de su hija, por eso eran billetes viejos y por eso Sadie desconocía de ese dinero. Al saberlo por la amiga, primero quiere desistir de viajar, pero luego piensa como el destino complotó para que surja esa relación, como si fuera su hija la que la llevaba a París (su sueño) y quiso hacerle saber a Jane, por eso le pidió que deje las flores. Jane se ve afectada porque le recordaba a su hija fallecida. Solo queda eso, la humanidad, buen cine independiente.

    • IMO Flicks

      A light bulb just went off in my head 💡 That makes total sense! I never even considered that the money wasn’t even Sadie’s in the first place. I appreciate this film a little more now. Gracias para your lovely response and I truly regret not taking anything higher than high school level Spanish. Thank God for Google translate 😅 and thank you for your thoughtful comment 🙂

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