Observations about the sad climax and my more hopeful epilogue
Despite the vast differences in their worlds, Jake and Niki had -- surprisingly -- formed a father/daughter type of relationship and friendship. In a perfect world Jake would've asked Niki to go back to Michigan with him and his daughter, but numerous factors prevented him, like: What kind of effect would this total prostitute have on his daughter's own reentry into proper society? Could a hardened prostitute like Niki leave that world behind without seriously relapsing a number of times? And when she has an exceptionally bad relapse, would she rip him off and head back to Southern Cal?
The best course of action would've been to take her back with him and get her into a rehabilitation program ASAP and keep the relationship going from there; maybe get her a job in his business when she's stable enough. But Jake was too flustered after everything that happened at the end of the film. His daughter had just called him a CS for crying out loud and almost didn't even go back with him. He wept; he was seriously humbled; and he wasn't thinking clear enough to reach out to Niki at that moment.
My epilogue to the film would be: After Jake gets settled with her daughter back in Grand Rapids he contacts Niki and asks if she'd like to take a vacation to Michigan, paid by him. They could then resume their father/daughter relationship and he could feel her out, so to speak, as to the best course of action from there, like get her some rehabilitation and hopefully offer her a job. Even if this failed he would at least have the peace of mind that he sincerely tried his best to deliver someone he cared about from the life of a prostitute.
What do you think?
My 150 (or so) favorite movies: