“I’m Thinking of Ending Things” stars Jesse Plemons, Jessie Buckley, Toni Collette, and David Thewlis. Released on Netflix on September 4, 2020, the film is about a woman who questions her relationship while meeting with her boyfriend’s parents.
The film is written and directed by Charlie Kaufman, who also directed “Synecdoche, New York” and “Anomalisa”. It is based on the 2016 novel of the same name by Iain Reid. Sometimes the most challenging part about being in a relationship is figuring out whether to end it or not. Writer/director Charlie Kaufman is back to give us a psychological perspective of this nerve-wrecking situation that’s streaming exclusively on Netflix. My experience with Kaufman’s filmmaking style was pretty rare since the only film I’ve seen from him so far was “Anomalisa” back in 2015, which I thought was a superb animated film for mature audiences. However, that didn’t stop me from checking it out because I heard some pretty good things about it…and because I got nothing else to see in the theater for a while. With that in mind, let’s see if this film is just as stressful as meeting your loved one’s parents.
The story follows a young woman (Buckley) who is contemplating on ending her relationship with her boyfriend Jake (Plemons). Before she can do that, Jake decided to take her to meet his parents (played by Collette and Thewlis respectively) at their farm. During their visit, the young woman experiences some unusual events that’ll make her think about her relationship even more. The best way I can describe this film is that it is metaphorical in its imagery and its dialogue, which is something that Charlie Kaufman is known for in his other works. It is also one of the films that challenge your mind and get you talking about what the heck you just saw on the screen, for better or for worse. I’m serious about the “for better or for worse” part because there is one group of people that are into films that get them thinking about their complex symbolism, and there’s another group that prefer films that provide escapism. Personally, this film felt more suitable for the former group. There were plenty of moments that I liked from this bizarre piece of cinematic art, but there were also some moments that left me feeling befuddled in a bad way, including the third act. Charlie Kaufman represented the complexities of the human condition with an unnerving sense of subtlety and beauty. However, the film suffered a bit from its uneven pacing and the ending. With a runtime of two hours and 14 minutes, “I’m Thinking of Ending Things” can feel like it has overstayed its welcome for casual moviegoers, but it was able to make this visit a bit more welcoming thanks to its cast and Kaufman’s screenplay. Jessie Buckley delivered a remarkable performance as the young woman who’s stuck in an internal conflict with herself. This is something that I thought was well-handled because Buckley allowed the audience to understand her character’s emotions both physically and mentally in terms of her dialogue. Jesse Plemons was also good in his role as Jake. There’s nothing else I could really say about his performance. He was spot on. The best part of the cast, in my opinion, has to go to Toni Collette as Jake’s mother. Seriously, is there anything that this actress can’t do? Much like her role in “Hereditary”, Collette had plenty of enjoyable moments that made her unsettling performance more engaging. Another thing that I liked was Łukasz Żal’s cinematography, which was shot in a 4:3 aspect ratio. It’s a beautiful-looking film that displays its sequences like they were pieces of art, even the ones that are somewhat creepy. Going back to its flaws, the film does drag a little bit despite the cast doing their best to capture my interest, mostly because that there’s nothing going on until something strange starts to happen. Most of the film had sequences that offer some significance in its themes, such as the surreal imagery and the ones involving the high school janitor (played by Guy Boyd). These sequences alone were pretty impressive from a critical perspective, but for moviegoers who aren’t familiar with Kaufman’s other works and the source material, they can leave a pretty darn headache. The ending is also something that left me feeling a bit mixed. I didn’t love it, but I also didn’t hate it either. I just don’t know what to think of it honestly. It’s one of those things in movies that left me feeling undecided.
Overall, “I’m Thinking of Ending Things” is a piece of art that’s both pretty and uncomfortable to look at, even though it lacked the qualities needed to get its modern audience interested. Its pacing and the ending are some of the things that prevented the film from reaching “best film” status in my eyes. For those who understand Kaufman’s storytelling skills, this is a suitable and unsettling experience that’s carried by a talented cast, a respectable screenplay, and its gorgeous cinematography. To be honest with you guys, this was a tough movie for me to talk about because of how it was represented on screen. I thought I knew what I was getting myself into, but the film said otherwise, leaving me with a confused state. I’m happy that some of the people liked, or even loved, this one because of the complexity of its themes. Personally, I thought that there are other films that handled the complexity a bit better than this. It’s a decent film that’s available on Netflix, but it’s not something that I would watch over and over again.