‘Pure O’ Ending Explained & Movie Summary: What Happens To Cooper?

Pure O, a form of OCD where one isn’t concerned with physical compulsions but with one’s own awful intrusive thoughts, Pure O stands for purely obsessional, and the person experiencing this might lose their mind over thoughts of killing their partner, causing a car accident, convincing themselves they have cancer, and all kinds of nightmarish fantasies. The director of Pure O, Dillon Tucker, has first-hand experience of surviving Pure O and decided to write and direct a story that truly resonates with people who actually suffer from OCD. Tucker’s movie leaves a sweet aftertaste while also emphasizing the fact that laying yourself bare and vulnerable can be a scary experience.


Spoilers Ahead

What Happens In The Movie?

Cooper is a struggling screenwriter and musician dealing with the extreme symptoms of pure O. He recently got engaged, and his thoughts aren’t in a healthy place as he thinks about killing his fiancee and ending his own life. The people who suffer from this condition often overthink their impulses and try to get a hold of them, and Cooper isn’t any different. Cooper googles about all kinds of things that worry him slightly. From searching to see if your partner is right for you to his own OCD issue, Cooper doesn’t make much progress in talk therapy; instead, it makes his condition even worse than before. He somehow deals with his mental illness, all while continuing his job as a counselor in a drug rehab facility. It is he who needs help, but he only offers it to others. Cooper’s condition starts to get better when his therapist asks him to go see an OCD specialist. 


What Are The Issues Cooper Is Going Through?

Cooper’s life took a hit when his mother fell ill a year ago, and he lost his screenwriting job when a producer backed out. Cooper has been with his fiancee, Emily, for eight years, and they recently got engaged. Cooper is a pretty good counselor, and he would be living a normal life if not for the voices in his head. He knows he should be happy, but he isn’t. The period when his mother got sick took a hit on Cooper, and he’s been holding on ever since, even after her recovery. Cooper is scared of knives; he thinks he’d harm Emily. He self-diagnoses his issues with the therapist and then thinks he’s just depressed. All of this changes when Cooper is referred to Nora, who sees through him and starts to guide him in the right direction. Emily is supportive of Cooper’s decision to seek help, and she’s the only person who knows about his issues. 

How Does Cooper Gel With The People Of Rehab?

Cooper works in a rehab facility where people don’t seem to be tortured to get better. It’s a free space that allows individuals to heal from their addiction issues. One of the patients is Rachel, an 18-year-old who’s lost her way over heroin addiction. Cooper gets Rachel like nobody does, and he asks her about what she really wants to become in life. He encourages Rachel to pursue fashion as a career choice and helps her with the application. Another one of the patients is Brandon, who’s rude to everybody who tries to help him, and Cooper gets no special treatment. Cooper’s job here helps him to reflect on his own life as well, as helping Rachel grow out of her misery makes him happy.


How Does Group Therapy Help Cooper?

Nora tells Cooper what he’s going through is not uncommon, and lays out his state of mind to him. Cooper realizes that Nora knows what she’s doing and trusts her process. Nora makes him join a group of other people with OCDs. and makes him join a group of other people with OCDs. Nora believes that Cooper can recover as she starts to treat him. Cooper meets other people in the group, like Rodney, who has hit-and-run OCD and can’t stop his head from thinking he caused the accident whenever he sees one. Cooper discusses his fears in the meetings, and seeing that his fears aren’t just limited to him but to others too relieves him a lot. The validation he gets from the group actually helps him realize that his impulses can be controlled by his own brain. 

Does Cooper Get A Grip On His Mental Health?

After months of group sessions, Nora tests Cooper to record his worst fears and contemplate them. Cooper starts to normalize his fears and realizes that his thoughts can’t have control over him if he fights them hard enough. His issues finally start to get resolved , and Nora asks him to bring Emily in to conduct a clinical treatment. She gives Cooper a knife and makes him sit face-to-face with Emily. Nora asks Cooper to hold the knife to her arms and throat and confess his worst fears, and he does say it out loud. He tells Emily that he might hurt or kill her, and Emily shows real support and doesn’t make him more nervous than he already is. Cooper manages to conquer the demons in his head, and Emily laughs about how funny the experience was. 


What Happens When Emily Gets Pregnant?

Cooper’s recovery also improves his relationship with Emily, and the couple finally get to spend some happy moments in the middle of an otherwise chaotic life. Emily is also a songwriter and musician, and the duo often partners up to perform for friends and family. Their seemingly happy relationship takes a hit when Emily finds out she’s pregnant. The news of her pregnancy affects Cooper, but he handles it really well and leaves the decision to Emily. They’re both confused, and the couple feels like they’re not ready for a child yet. Emily’s stepfather Steve’s suffering from the last stage of cancer also affects their decision. Cooper does his best to take care of his in-laws and Emily, and Emily decides to have an abortion. Cooper and she both agree that they’re not ready for a child yet, and they go through with the abortion. Emily starts to regret what she’s done and grows distant from Cooper. Cooper allows her the space, thinking that’s what she needs to process. Emily starts to drink more than ever, and the distance between her and Cooper only grows further. After Steve dies, Emily tells Cooper that she can’t live with the person she killed her baby with, and she wishes to live a different life. Cooper’s disbelief over the breakup soon fades out, and he accepts that Emily is battling with her issues as much as he is. 

How Does Cooper Help To Change Brandon’s Life? 

Brandon shows no sign of improvement and keeps hindering the progress of others. He tests Cooper’s patience during a session and leaves the group. Cooper follows him to see that he’s breaking chairs and the other furniture. Brandon thinks Cooper has his life together and is in no position to offer help. Cooper finally lets it out and tells Brandon about the issues he’s faced in the last year. His mother’s falling sick from an autoimmune disease made him feel like she was going to die, even after she recovered. His suicidal tendencies are driving him almost crazy, and his condition leads him to believe he’d kill Emily. Cooper lets Brandon believe that problems can be dealt with if one is really willing to turn their life around. Cooper reminds Brandon that he has two little daughters back home, and he has to work on himself if he ever wants to go back to them. 


Is There A Bright Life Waiting For Cooper?

Soon after the breakup, Cooper gets an offer from a production to write a screenplay. He decides to leave L.A. and travel across South America. He bids goodbye to his therapy friends and thanks them for truly helping him get his life back on track again. Rachel is mad at Cooper for leaving, but Cooper does her a favor and writes her a letter of recommendation for the college application. The letter is as beautiful as it can be, and Rachel sees that Cooper is the only person in her life who’s not been a letdown. Cooper deletes Google and officially ends his struggle for peaceful mental health. Cooper leaves the city knowing he’s done right by everyone, as Love Me Like a Fire plays to signify a new chapter in his life. 

Pure O could very easily have been a live-laugh-love kind of movie if it wasn’t made by Dillon Tucker. Tucker’s screenplay never makes one lose interest, and the use of music, some of it written and sung by himself, makes the film a magical journey. The characters feel relatable, and the vulnerability they show reminds the audience how much it actually takes to truly begin the journey of healing. Tucker shows we can fight the constant battle against the struggles life sets us up for and how much things can change when you expect it the least. The movie is bound to knock on your heart and soul, as it did mine. 


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Aniket Mukherjee
Aniket Mukherjee
Aniket is a literature student pursuing his master's degree while trying to comprehend Joyce and Pound. When his head is not shoved in books, he finds solace in cinema and his heart beats for poetry, football, and Adam Sandler in times.

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