August 31st, 2020
MOVIE: I’M THINKING OF ENDING THINGS
STARRING: JESSIE BUCKLEY; TONI COLLETTE; JESSE PLEMMONS; DAVID THEWLIS
DIRECTED BY: CHARLIE KAUFMAN
AMovieGuy.com’s RATING: 3 ½ STARS (Out of 4)
It’s fascinating to enter into the mind of Charlie Kaufman. I’m Thinking of Ending Things is an evolving film, constantly bending, moving, and daring the audience to go farther into the psyche of a person. It’s a story about a man and a woman, but more particularly about the woman, but then evolving into a story about the man. And if that sentence alone confused you, wait till you see the movie. Jessie Buckley and Jesse Plemmons star, where they elegantly and passionately take us into a labyrinth of life. Figuring out a way to intelligently describe I’m Thinking of Ending Things is equally difficult, but it sums up to being a movie about love, life, death, our past, and the present. There’s a whole lot going on and I loved everything about it.
*From this point on it’s impossible to talk about I’m Thinking of Ending Things without spoilers. You have been warned.*
It begins with a woman named Julie (Jessie Buckley) but by the end I could not tell you what her name is. She is standing outside in the snow, waiting for her boyfriend Jake (Jesse Plemmons) to pick her up, headed on a trip to meet his parents at their farm house. Jake’s parents are played by Toni Collette and David Thewlis- only listed as Mother and Father- and the majority of the story takes place at their home, for a nice introduction over dinner. The other half of the story involves Jake and Jaime (the name constantly changing) talking in the car, long, in-depth conversations that encapsulate an entire lifetime of a relationship. In I’m Thinking of Ending Things, the story is always morphing into something else, the way humans evolve, the way we change as we get older in life.
The screenplay is written by Charlie Kaufman, based on the book of the same name by Iain Reid; And although the director is using the structure of Reid’s book, it is certainly a Kaufman film. His other works, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, Adaptation, and Being John Malkovich all have an incredible bend to them, distorting and swerving the narrative around the audiences head. Things are no different here, but Reid’s book has been categorized more in the horror genre, and although there are plenty of creepy moments, this movie is more surreal; A visual representation of life flashing before our eyes. It helps that the delivery from all four actors is excellent, truly four thespians that become what the character asks for. The genius…or is it genus? The genius is Kaufman who seems to be working out many of his own demons, hang-ups, pleasures, and pains in life. The Jesse Plemmons character is Kaufman, but there’s a little bit of all of us in every character in this movie.
It was the third act where the story takes a detour that not only summarizes everything we just witnessed, but includes an interpretation of what the afterlife will be. The road leads to Jake’s old high school and once inside and out of the snowstorm. Is this a high school? Is it the inside of Jake’s mind? We meet a janitor inside the school and who is he? I think it’s Jake in an older state. Have Jake and Jenna been married this whole time? What’s really funny about I’m Thinking of Ending Things is that what I’m telling you is more of my interpretation. It’s a film worthy of multiple viewings and even then you still might not know what you just saw.
In all of it’s weirdness, I’m Thinking of Ending Things is by far one of the most original films for 2020. It’s also rich with some of the best acting performances of the year, especially Buckley who is one of the biggest rising stars in cinema these days. It’s just that the mind of Charlie Kaufman is an incredible thing. It’s a bit of a scary place to be, but the final result is something that you never want to end…Or maybe it is all just the beginning.
I’M THINKING OF ENDING THINGS PREMIERES ON NETFLIX THIS FRIDAY.
3 ½ STARS
Written by: Leo Brady