Spoiler Alert: This article contains spoilers for Let Them All Talk.
For his latest movie venture, director Steven Soderbergh recruits three acting legends to play three best friends who’ve lost touch with one another after an ill-fated trip many years prior. Let Them All Talk, which was filmed primarily on the ship Queen Mary 2, explores friendships, the meaning of life, and love, with each character going through a self-discovery while on the transatlantic crossing.
With powerhouse performances from Meryl Streep, Candice Bergen, and Dianne Wiest, this awkward comedy-drama takes an unexpected turn at the end of the movie that many viewers are confused about.
If you're among them, keep scrolling while we explain the ending of Let Them All Talk.
The 'Let Them All Talk' ending, explained.
Let Them All Talk begins with Alice Hughes (Meryl Streep), a Pulitzer Prize-winning author who’s experiencing a bit of writer’s block. In a meeting with her new editor Karen (Gemma Chan), audiences learn that Alice actually detests the Pulitzer-winning novel that earned her literary acclaim but when Karen presses Alice about details of her new work, Alice changes the subject to the Footling Award for which she’s just received an invitation.
However, Alice is also forbidden from flying, which would make it impossible for her to receive the award. To solve the problem, Karen suggests Alice opt to sail to England via the Queen Mary 2’s transatlantic crossing.
Alice agrees and invites three guests: her friends Susan (Dianne Wiest) and Roberta (Candice Bergen), and her nephew Tyler (Lucas Hedges).
Unbeknownst to Alice, Karen also gets a ticket in order to keep tabs on her star author and secretly extract information about the new book.
Let Them All Talk is less plot-driven and more about the characters. The rest of the movie fleshes each one out through dialogue, revealing past slights and present grudges that ensure the emotional walls Alice, Roberta, and Susan have built up over the years never come down.
Toward the end of the movie, Tyler, who breakfasts with his aunt every morning, is shocked to be informed of Alice's death by her personal physician, Dr. Mitchell (John Douglas Thompson), who until now Tyler assumed was a mysterious stranger that Alice was having an affair with.
Dr. Mitchell explains to Tyler, Susan, and Roberta that Alice had been suffering from Deep Vein Thrombosis, a serious condition that caused her to develop blood clots in her veins that may have travelled to her lungs or heart.
After her death, Susan and Roberta talk about buying plane tickets to fly back to the U.S. as soon as possible but Tyler implores them to stay on and complete the journey that his aunt had envisioned. The audience learns at this point that not only was receiving the Footling prize important to Alice, but she also wanted to use the time on the ship to reconcile with her dear friends.
In the end, Roberta steals Alice’s diary and tries to sell it in an attempt to recoup some monetary value for her life story that she believes Alice exploited for her Pulitzer-winning book. After unsuccessful attempts at selling the diary, however, Roberta gives it to Karen, asking her to return it to Tyler.
Meanwhile, Susan also turns to writing as she assists world-famous author Kelvin Kranz (Daniel Algrant), a thriller writer the women meet on the ship. While she doesn’t hold any grudges against Alice like Roberta does, she is devastated by her friend’s death.
Last of all, Tyler returns to his aunt’s apartment and, seeing pictures of himself on Alice’s desk, Tyler realizes that he was as important to her as she was to him. His insight into Alice’s final wishes for the trip with her friends leads him to return to Alice’s apartment and return the stolen diary to its rightful place on her desk.
Stream Let Them All Talk on HBO Max.