‘Really Love’ is a romantic drama that follows a whirlwind romance between a struggling artist and a law student. The film’s story explores the nuances of a relationship strained by the central characters’ individual ambitions, even while neither can deny the deep chemistry between them. Socio-economic pressures and familial expectations add further layers to their delicate love that seems to perpetually hang by a thread but has a deep and lasting impact on both Isaiah and Stevie. Time seems to stand still when they’re together, but their ambitions are only fed when they’re apart, and the film’s poetic finale seems to echo just that. Perhaps Stevie never truly left Isaiah, but does that mean they’ll end up together? Let’s take another look at the ending of ‘Really Love.’ SPOILERS AHEAD.
Really Love Plot Synopsis
The film opens at an art show where the artist of the hour, Yusuf, welcomes his friend Isaiah to the opening. While marveling at the bold and evocative works, Isaiah and Stevie find themselves looking at the same painting and strike immediate chemistry. Sometime later, at a club owned by his friend Nick, Isaiah runs into Stevie again, and this time, almost inevitably, the two end up exchanging numbers. The relationship that blossoms between them is deep, and the film takes us through the languid, blissful time the two spend together.
Even as Isaiah struggles to get a coveted solo show for his art, Stevie, who comes from a wealthy family and is studying law at a prestigious university, supports him and suggests he move in with her. Things, however, begin to get bumpy when Stevie takes Isaiah to meet her parents, a wealthy couple that seems utterly unimpressed by the struggling artist and makes their feelings quite obvious.
Over dinner, Stevie’s mother pointedly asks her daughter to consider working at a powerful law firm, while Isaish supports his girlfriend’s decision to work with more charitable institutions. Feeling the parents’ disapproving gaze, however, the budding artist throws himself into his work and becomes distant from his girlfriend. When he stands Stevie up for a dance performance they planned to go to together, the latter finally decides to consider taking a high-paying job at a law firm in Chicago. By then, Isaiah’s art finally gets him the recognition and solo show he has desperately worked towards, and he becomes busier than before, building his portfolio for international shows.
One night, as he returns home late once again, Stevie cannot hold in her anger and confronts Isaiah about how he’s hardly ever around, to which the artist responds by saying that he’s worked his whole life to get to where he is and that he doesn’t have wealthy parents who will support him if he fails. Heartbroken and angry, Stevie asks him to leave, and the two essentially break up. We are then taken 1 year on, where Isaiah is doing well as an artist and attends one of his shows in Chicago, where he runs into Stevie and her new boyfriend, Ahmad. However, the two quickly reconnect and soon end up spending the night together.
Really Love Ending: Do Isaiah and Stevie End Up Together?
After a wonderful night together, Isaiah wakes up the next morning and promptly gets to sketching, leaving Stevie alone in bed. Angered and disappointed, she leaves despite Isaiah begging her to stay. They next meet at another of Isaiah’s art shows, this time in Washington D.C. As the two awkwardly greet each other, the artist gets called to the side by his manager Chenai, leaving Stevie facing the show’s centerpiece, a nude painting titled “Her.” As she stares at it, a realization seems to come over her. The film closes with Stevie’s eyes brimming with tears as we see Isaiah approaching her in the background.
The delicate love story, poetically closed, doesn’t clearly tell us whether the two finally end up together or not, and that is where the film’s beauty lies— in its dilemma. Realistically, all aspects point towards Stevie getting together with Isaiah, who has made it clear that he loves her. Stevie, too, when they reconnect, admits that she’s missed him and their time together. Seeing how she doesn’t answer when Isaiah askes her whether she’s happy, and with the engagement of her friend Mecca, there are a lot of factors that will push Stevie to fall into Isaiah’s arms and rekindle their love which still burns within them both.
However, her mother’s words about never putting someone first who wouldn’t do the same for her also seem to ring true, and Stevie likely realizes that for Isaiah, his art will always be his first priority. Every instance of Stevie being angry at him has stemmed from Isaiah spending time working on his paintings when she thinks he should be spending time with her. In a way, she cares about their relationship the same way Isaiah cares about his art, except Stevie possibly realizes that she will never truly be happy with a man for whom she comes second.
Seeing as she is the apple of her parents’ eyes, Stevie is used to being loved wholeheartedly and, through no fault of her own, cannot stand Isaiah relegating her to the sidelines every time his art beckons him. Therefore, the two might have another fling in the future, or maybe even many. But the sadness in Stevie’s eyes in the film’s closing scene hints at the realization she finally has that despite her having been his muse and inspiring a lot of his art, the “real her” will never be as important to Isaiah as the figures he puts on canvas.
What is the Significance of the Painting Stevie Sees in the End?
The painting Stevie sees in the end is on a wall of its own and is seemingly the centerpiece of the show. In an earlier scene, we hear Isaiah specifically mention that he wants the painting to have an entire side of the room to itself. The piece itself is a nude portrait of Stevie and is recognized by her as such. However, Isaiah’s style of painting that blurs faces possibly makes the subject’s identity a secret to most others present, making it all the more poetic. The painting can arguably be called the film’s climax and gives us a few subtle clues about Isaiah’s feelings for Stevie.
First off, the title of the painting — ‘Her’ — is the same name the artist used to save Stevie’s number on his phone. Second, the fact that the painting is the centerpiece of the artist’s show on his home turf (Washington D.C.) means that the painting itself is special to him. However, we truly find out how special the painting is by the sign below that says that the piece is a part of the artist’s personal collection, taking us back to a piece of advice Isaiah’s successful painter friend Yusuf gave him in his early days.
According to the latter, the one piece of useful advice he had for the then-budding Isaiah was that he should always keep some of his own paintings, and it looks like Isaiah has kept the portrait of Stevie for himself. Symbolically, this is as big of a gesture of love as any that the painter can make, and proves that Stevie has been his muse all this time. Stevie also realizes this when she sees the painting and is overcome with emotion.
Does Isaiah Make it as a Successful Artist?
Yes, for all intents and purposes, Isaiah does make it as a successful artist. Considering he has solo shows all over the country and that there is talk of him going international, he seems to have achieved all that he hoped and worked so hard for. The hefty cheque he gets from Chenai also underscores the artist’s success. However, it’s interesting to note that even one year after making it as a successful artist, Isaiah still works in his dingy workshop.
Chenai’s words when she handed him his first cheque — that the power of his work lies in his hunger — resonate strongly with the artist, and it seems like he has not let success get to his head. Ironically, this is likely the biggest reason why a relationship between him and Stevie still looks improbable because, despite his success, Isaiah is still going to remain obsessed with his art (at least for the foreseeable future), which is something that Stevie cannot coexist with.
Read More: Where Was Really Love Filmed?