‘I Don’t Expect Anybody To Believe Me’ Ending Explained & Film Summary: Are Juan And Vale Dead?


I Don’t Expect Anybody to Believe Me is a new Spanish-Mexican comedy-thriller film recently released on Netflix. Adapted from Mexican novelist Juan Pablo Villalobos’ 2020 novel by the same name, and now directed by Fernando Frias, it presents the bizarre story of a doctoral student’s life turning upside down as he reaches Barcelona for his studies. With a sense of cynicism and mockery that works brilliantly and is aided by good performances, I Don’t Expect Anybody to Believe Me is a very enjoyable film to watch.

Spoiler Alert

Plot Summary: What is Film about?

Although the film is centered around the life of a young man named Juan Pablo, I Don’t Expect Anybody to Believe Me begins with a rather unusual opening scene, with the inside of a public trash can in focus. A printed manuscript bound in brown covers is seen as someone drops it into the bin, and the can is then emptied the next morning by sanitation workers. The manuscript incidentally drops out onto the ground, where a homeless man picks it up, hoping to find something interesting. As he starts to read the contents of this manuscript, he learns of the writer, who had written about his life’s experience, which had gone through some bizarre twists and turns. The homeless man reads only a couple of pages and then throws it away, scattering the pages into the air, for there is no worth in the manuscript.

However, the incidents recorded in the same manuscript are then visually presented to us in this strange but remarkable film, as we are made a part of the life of Juan Carlos, a young man from Mexico. Ever since his childhood days, Juan has been admittedly different from his cousin Lorenzo. While Lorenzo was more interested in making money through business and the adolescent thrills of watching adult films, Juan was more reserved and into the finer elements of life. Towards the beginning of the 2000s, Juan decided to pursue higher education and was selected for a PhD program at Barcelona’s Pompeu University. This is a joyous occasion for the young man and his girlfriend Valentina, or Vale, for both of them have been dreaming of moving to Europe and hopefully settling there.

During his farewell party conducted by his parents, Juan receives a call from Cousin Lorenzo, who is very excited to tell him about his latest business project that will bring in a lot of money. Juan knows that Lorenzo’s plans almost always involve asking for money as an investment, and so he tries to avoid meeting his cousin. However, the next day, a young man apprehends Juan to go meet with Lorenzo, indirectly threatening him with the gun hidden under his shirt. When they reach their destination, Juan is shocked to see Lorenzo tied to a chair and surrounded by men who claim that the cousin had borrowed and lost a lot of their money, with no way for him to pay it back. The leader of this gang, Chucky, then receives orders from someone and immediately shoots Lorenzo dead. Juan is then made to speak with someone calling himself The Lawyer over the phone, and from this point on, Juan has to act on the strange orders of this mysterious man.

What is Juan forced to do while in Barcelona?

The Lawyer’s first and foremost order for Juan Carlos is that he and Vale must leave for Barcelona as they had planned to anyway, without making any changes. Juan’s family is shaken by young Lorenzo being found dead, but his death is reported to be from a truck accident. Right before leaving the country, the protagonist has a bad argument, following a breakup with Vale, as is characteristic of the kind of love among young, unsettled individuals of this age. However, he is almost immediately reminded by the criminal gang who have taken over his life that Vale is crucial for the plan that has been set for him. The fact that Juan’s plane is stopped only for him to be dragged out and made to receive a call from Chucky makes it very apparent that the gangsters are extremely powerful and influential. If the previous events had not convinced Juan, this would have entirely made him abide by the orders of the gang, and therefore, the young man somewhat reconciles with Vale and takes her along to Barcelona.

In the new city, Juan starts attending classes and discussing his thesis with his guide and fellow peers. His thesis and study are roughly centered around the limits of comedy, or the study of measuring the extent to which something might be considered comedic and beyond which it becomes too serious. Very interestingly, I Don’t Expect Anybody to Believe Me is also built around this very question, for the incidents that follow in Juan’s life are comedic in a sense and yet extremely serious and tragic at the same time. The very first order that he receives from the Lawyer is to change his research guide, and Juan submits the official request to be transferred to Professor Meritxell Ripoll. Although the request is immediately granted, this change is rather bizarre in Juan’s academic context since his research in humor and history does not in any way involve gender studies, which is Ripoll’s forte.

But the Lawyer then makes it very clear that this change is only to ensure that Juan meets with a very particular student in the class of Professor Ripoll, who is intricately linked to the next part of the plan. This student is a young woman named Laia Carbonell, who has strongly feminist beliefs that immediately clash with Juan’s thoughts. Although the two start off on the wrong note, through a discussion that only highlights the difference in their opinions, Juan and Laia do end up becoming friends. This is somewhat helped by Juan’s physiological condition of developing eczema on his hands and face whenever he is too nervous or anxious, which acts as a conversation starter. When the Lawyer reveals the next part of the plan or the next act that Juan needs to perform, though, things seem almost impossible. The Lawyer orders Juan to get physically intimate with Laia, which is out of the question since she is only interested in women.

As strange and sometimes even goofy as the Lawyer and his gang might seem, they are also extremely prepared with this plan, which is evident from the fact that they knew of Laia’s sexual preferences. This was why Vale was such a necessary individual to be brought along to Spain, and Juan was now directed towards the next order. He is to ensure that Vale and Laia are introduced to each other at a party, following which all three of them would take some drugs that would certainly make them get intimate with each other. These drugs are also arranged for Juan, and the plan proceeds like clockwork, with Vale and Laia getting physically intimate with each other. But the relationship between the two women that the Lawyer had hoped for does not work out since Juan and Vale break up once more, meaning that she no longer gets to see Laia.

Ever since their arrival in Barcelona, Juan and Vale’s relationship has not been able to mend, mostly owing to the fact that they are very different from each other. Vale often finds herself lost and aimless in the city, and the fact that her relationship with Juan is not at a stable stage also does not help. She finds a best friend in an Italian homeless man on the streets of Barcelona, named Jimi, and also in his pet dog, Ugo. It is either Jimi or her best friend or sister in Mexico that Vale is always seen talking to, and her internal thoughts are revealed through these conversations. Since she is outside of the protected space of academia, Vale faces issues of racism a lot more than Juan. As a woman, she has to deal with other matters as well, like her older roommate wanting to get intimate with her. Therefore, she decides to break up with Juan, who is more distant from her than ever before, and to eventually return to Mexico. But this breakup causes problems for the Lawyer, as he now himself makes acquaintance with Juan to explain the next part of the plan.

Who is the Lawyer, and what does he want from Juan?

I Don’t Expect Anybody to Believe Me plays around with the very premise of belief, for almost everyone who gets to hear this story actually disbelieves it. It is also because of this very disbelief that the entire plan or the identity of the criminals involved in hijacking Juan’s life also do not get revealed. When the Lawyer meets with Juan, he takes on the imaginary role of his godfather, who had just recently come to visit him in Barcelona, and they together go over to Laia’s house. As it turns out, Laia Carbonell is the daughter of a very reputed and powerful politician in Catalunya, named Oriol Carbonell, and the Lawyer has some past connections with him.

The Lawyer and Carbonell are on opposite sides, with the former most probably having been employed by some rival politician of Carbonell. The situation is made slightly clearer later on when Vale finds a video sent by Lorenzo on Juan’s laptop. Juan had never checked this video, which his cousin had sent him before his untimely death, and it gives some context to the events of the film. Two years ago, Laia had been visiting Mexico when she met Lorenzo for the first time in Cancun. Given the kind of man Lorenzo was, it was not unexpected that he had wanted to get intimate with her and had somehow created some trouble because of it. He had found out about Laia’s powerful politician dad, and he also owed money to the Lawyer, as he had already borrowed it from the criminal. It is suggested that Carbonell had asked the Lawyer to ensure his daughter’s safety in Mexico, and in the process, the Lawyer somehow found out the connection that Lorenzo had with Laia.

Now that Lorenzo was dead, with no way to repay the loan he had taken, the Lawyer made an extensive plan with the cousin Juan in mind, who was about to go to Barcelona for his studies. It seems like the Lawyer’s plan was to get Vale to have a relationship with Laia, which he would use to blackmail the politician and presumably infiltrate into his business. But this plan had to be changed because of Vale’s unavailability, and so he pretends to be Juan’s godfather and manages to get into Carbonell’s house. As silly as it might seem, this was perhaps the only intention of the Lawyer to make use of Juan—only to carve an entry into the politician’s house. The Lawyer does have some business deal to discuss with Carbonell, but Juan is not a part of them, and therefore, we do not learn of them either.

However, an idea about this deal is possible because of the fact that the Lawyer and his men make Juan shoot a man dead soon after this meeting with Carbonell. This man had been tailing Juan around, and he was made to believe that the man was a private investigator hired by the Carbonell family to learn more about Laia’s newest friend. However, the man actually turns out to be a Carbonell himself. It is possible that this man was a sort of rival for Oriol Carbonell inside his own family, and it would be of great help if he could be killed. This is where the Lawyer came into action, with his plan of making Juan commit the murder, for which he must have collected a large amount of money from the politician. This money was then, presumably, used to pay off Lorenzo’s debts to the gang.

What happens to Juan and Vale in the end?

Juan quickly understands how he had been tricked and how he and Vale were now expendable to the Lawyer and his gang. At first, he writes the account of these very bizarre experiences, which he titles I Don’t Expect Anybody to Believe Me, which is borrowed from the title of an adult film he had watched during his teenage years. Juan then gets a suggestion from Lorenzo’s video about how to survive, as the cousin had talked about a possible rift in the Lawyer’s gang, as Chucky was fed up with the boss and wanted to kill him. This is purely Lorenzo’s hunch, and he had advised his cousin to make use of this situation by conspiring with Chucky and killing the Lawyer.

Juan is very wary of Lorenzo’s unintelligent ways in life, and so he decides not to take his cousin’s advice. Instead, he meets with the Lawyer and tells him about how Chucky and another criminal associate, Ahmed, were conspiring against him. Juan hopes to secure a deal for his own protection with the Lawyer, but the fact that he is still banking on Lorenzo’s hunch finally causes even more trouble for him. In reality, there was no rift between the Lawyer and Chucky, for the boss calls Chucky to kill Juan after his exorbitant claim, and the protagonist dies at the end of I Don’t Expect Anybody to Believe Me.

During all this time, Juan had not told Vale anything about the gang or Lorenzo’s murder, and the woman now finds out about all of it from Lorenzo’s video. She is alarmed by the matter, and then she also finds Juan’s unfinished autobiographical record on his laptop. Concerned for his safety, the young man is now missing. Vale changes the part where Juan had admitted to killing the Carbonell spy and then prints it out to make a manuscript out of it. She then hands it over to a police officer named Laia, with whom she had become acquainted. Laia reads the entire manuscript and is shocked to find the extent of political conspiracy and police involvement that the whole matter was about. She decides to investigate the case, but then she also sees Vale disappear on the streets, with one of the Lawyer’s henchmen lurking around.

Therefore, during I Don’t Expect Anybody to Believe Me‘s ending, both Juan and Vale are killed by the criminal gang, and their bodies are never found. Police officer Laia is also ousted from her job after she tries to tell her superiors about the details in the manuscript. Her last option is to convince Juan’s mother, who comes to Barcelona looking for her son, that her son had stumbled upon a grand-scale political conspiracy. But the woman, who had never really understood her son’s works and aims, simply goes through some of the pages of the manuscript and refuses to believe that it has anything to do with Juan’s disappearance. Frustrated by the disbelief she is getting from everyone, Officer Laia just chucks the manuscript into a nearby trash bin. It is from here that the homeless man at the beginning of the film found the manuscript and then tore it apart, for there was seemingly nothing interesting in it to find!

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Sourya Sur Roy
Sourya Sur Roy
Sourya keeps an avid interest in all sorts of films, history, sports, videogames and everything related to New Media. Holding a Master of Arts degree in Film Studies, he is currently working as a teacher of Film Studies at a private school and also remotely as a Research Assistant and Translator on a postdoctoral project at UdK Berlin.

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