10. The Young Woman Is Jake
As confusing as it might sound, the young woman who we spend the best part of two hours with getting to know their deepest thoughts doesn’t exist. She's completely fictitious, a figment of Jake’s imagination.
This connection between these characters is made much more explicit in Reid’s novel. Whilst in the school, for instance, the woman physically deteriorate as she realises that she and Jake are the same person when she notices that a portrait of her actually portrays Jake. To cement this point even further, the narration of the novel switches to Jake’s perspective at this point as the final tragedy unfolds.
Kaufman does thread some of his own hints that point towards this revelation, but you'll need to look a little harder to spot them. One of the most telling moments is Kaufman's own version of the picture reveal. In the farmhouse, the woman discovers a childhood picture of herself before it transforms into a picture of Jake moments later.
Likewise, the woman seems to echo Jake’s own thoughts throughout the film. Towards the end, she sarcastically asks how long it would take for someone to die of hypothermia before the janitor commits suicide - but we're getting ahead of ourselves.