The Starling summary and ending explained

The Starling is an emotional drama about an American couple, Lilly and Jack, who are grieving after the loss of their daughter, Katie, and how both of them react to the tragedy as individuals. The Starling was released on September 12, 2021, on Netflix.


The movie starts with the happy couple painting the room for their daughter, Katie, and thinking about what she’d become when she grows up. However, their dreams of a happy future are shattered when Katie passes away due to SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome).

Unable to cope up with the loss, Jack decides to admit himself to a mental health program at New Horizons. Being a pre-school art teacher, it is difficult for him to not think about Katie and avoid have recurring breakdowns.  

Lilly, on the other hand, works at a departmental store where she constantly messes things up due to lack of concentration owing to her grief.

Lilly visits Jack every Tuesday at the program. There is a tension prevalent between them that both of them are not ready to address. Regina, a therapist at New Horizons, advises Lilly to see a therapist when she notices her not being able to deal with the loss.

Regina refers Lilly to her friend, Dr. Larry Fine, as she believes he’d help her deal with her emotions. The following day, Lilly decides to visit Larry but discovers that he is not a therapist anymore, rather a vet. Regardless, Larry tries to help Lilly.

Meanwhile, Lilly sells Katie’s things and tries to divert her mind to gardening. However, a starling keeps flying past her and scratching her head repeatedly. She tries to get rid of the bird — even tries to poison it — but fails.

Jack is seen pretending to swallow his medication but in reality, he just keeps storing them in a cloth. His recovery is not the best. He finds solace in being at the program because it’s easier than going back to reality and facing his feelings head-on.

Dr. Larry is unable to help Lilly and requests her to come to him only with any animal problems. Do Lily and Jack manage to come out of this crisis?

Here is The Starling ending explained in detail:

Lilly’s suppressed emotions

During the first half of the film, it is quite evident that Lilly is trying to cope but is suppressing her grief by distracting herself. She isn’t ready to move on, but still wants to find a way to channel her emotions into productive things.

As the film progresses, she takes up gardening, tries to rearrange things at the store, tries to get rid of the Starling, etc. but nothing seems fruitful. When she meets Larry, he explains that her efforts to get rid of/kill the Starling are because of her overpowering grief, which is not healthy.

One day, when Lilly notices that the starling has chicks of its own, and there is Katie’s sock in the nest, she feels like she has a connection with the bird.

Eventually, Lilly works on herself and tries to sort things out with Jack, but the bereaved husband withdraws into himself and eventually requests Lilly not to visit him any further.

Lilly is hurt and frustrated and argues with Dr. Larry. When she comes back home, the starling attacks her, and in return, she throws a stone at the bird, which hits and injures the it.

She realises what she has done and takes the bird to Dr. Larry. After the its surgery, she also takes care of it until it gets better. This helps Lilly to heal and feel better.

Jack’s realisation

As mentioned earlier, Lilly and Jack have a lot of tension. There are a lot of misunderstandings and two haven’t talked about their true feelings after the tragedy.

When Lilly tells Jack that she had sold Katie’s things, Jack is hurt and requests Lilly to not see him for some time. During this time, he goes through a roller-coaster of emotions. His health deteriorates, and he cuts off from activities at the health program.

In one instance, he also pushes a health professional in anger. He starts blaming himself for all that had happened with their daughter. He delves deeper into his emotions, trying to think and playing the events of the tragic night again and again.

However, after having a talk with Dr. Larry and hearing about his wife’s efforts, Jack starts confronting his issues. He tells Regina how he’s been in and out of depression since his 20s and he’d like to get better. When Lilly comes to visit, he apologises for not being there for her in these trying times.

He lets go of the past and tries to smile and include Katie’s name casually in conversations.

Jack and Lilly’s Relationship

Jack and Lilly’s relationship has been rocky from the start. When Jack withdraws himself from his wife, there seems to be a possibility of them going for a divorce.

Lilly tries to give their relationship multiple chances. Even after Jack’s withdrawal, she tells him that whatever may happen, she’d like to face it together. It takes quite some time for Jack to realise how loving his wife is.

When Jack finally confronts his issues and realizes how his wife hasn’t given up on him even after going through so much, he knows that he has been selfish and tries to save their relationship.

He explains how he’s trying to let go of the past. He even strikes a conversation with Lilly about getting new furniture for Katie’s bedroom to redecorate it and make the room useful for other purposes. At that moment, there is a sense of calmness between the couple.

In the closing scene, the duo is seen wearing headgears and running to the garden, trying to save themselves from the starling’s attacks. It symbolises that despite the fact that the starling had been a nuisance, the couple is ready to co-exist with it, just as with the grief of losing their child.

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