I’m Thinking of Ending Things (2020)

im thinking of ending things poster 2020 movie
9.0 Overall Score
Story: 9/10
Acting: 9/10
Visuals: 9/10

Charlie Kaufman does David Lynch

Not an easy movie if you are expecting answers

Movie Info

Movie Name:  I’m Thinking of Ending Things

Studio: Likely Story

Genre(s): Drama/Mystery

Release Date(s):  August 28, 2020 (US)/September 4, 2020 (Netflix)

MPAA Rating: R

im thinking of ending things toni collette david thewlis

See…family dinners can still be uncomfortable without talking about politics.

A woman (Jessie Buckley) and her boyfriend Jake (Jesse Plemons) are headed to Jake’s parents for a first meeting and dinner…unfortunately, the woman is reconsidering the relationship with Jake.  Jake’s parents (David Thewlis and Toni Collette) rave about Jake’s choice of women, but the woman notices something is wrong.  As the night goes on, and the winter storm outside gets more and more severe, time seems to be slipping and sliding…and the woman finds herself questioning reality itself.

Directed by Charlie Kaufman, I’m Thinking of Ending Things is a psychological drama.  Kaufman adapted it from the 2016 novel by Iain Reid.  The film had a brief theater release and was dropped for streaming on Netflix on September 4, 2020.

im thinking of ending things jessie buckley tulsey town ice cream

Who doesn’t want a Blizzard in a blizzard?

You never know what you are going to get when you go into a Charlie Kaufman film.  You might get people entering actors heads on a half-floor, non-existent twins, or even stop-motion animated people working through some of the great challenges of relationships.  Generally, Kaufman has an undercurrent of humor even when it gets really dark…I’m Thinking of Ending Things doesn’t necessarily have that undertone (ok, the sappy internal movie being a Robert Zemeckis film was kind of funny).  Due to aspects of the movie, a ******spoiler alert****** exists for the rest of the review.

The film is dark.  It bounces back and forth between philosophical conversations, criticisms, and discussions (sometimes stolen from other sources) and places these conversations in a surreal world that gets progressively more unsettling as the film goes on.  While the film starts out focused on the woman (whose name changes like the fluidity of time), it starts to get more and more Jake based.  Lots of earlier references begin to pop-up and mix with what Jake and the woman are seeing and personalities change.  It ends with an abandoned school and what is seen as most likely the dying thoughts of a lonely janitor who is remembering aspects of his life and dreams.  It is like a scary Twilight Zone fever dream of reality unwrapping.

im thinking of ending things pig scene guy boyd

At this point anything is game

The acting is stellar even when it feels like it isn’t.  Jesse Plemons’ Jake rages between silent and stubborn to unnaturally angry at points.  He is submissive and generally feels he is wrong about things despite being a Nobel Prize winning physicist (who gives the speech from A Beautiful Mind).  Jessie Buckley has the meatier role with her character trying to assess what is happening to her while slipping into different personas.  At points she’s like Jake’s mother Toni Collette in laughter and speech patterns and then she jumps to being film critic Pauline Kael reciting her criticisms of A Woman Under the Influence (which of course Jake concedes she’s right).  Her character isn’t real, but she seems to have an understanding that if he dies, she dies.

The movie is shot in a smaller perspective and it gives it a claustrophobic feel that adds to the idea that the movie is closing in on Jake and the woman.  The surreal nature of Kaufman’s other stuff is felt in sequences involving animation, singing, and dance.  The tension built in the film at points is truly unsettling and becomes disturbing at points through the course of the movie.

im thinking of ending things jesse plemons

Oklahoma and a Beautiful Mind…

With all of the characters being pulled from Jakes mind, you get the idea that the mind does store a lot of information inside of it that potentially.  The people of the Tulsey Town Ice Cream are girls from the janitor’s memories of school (and also could imply his shame of staring at them).  The movie feels closer to something like Lynch which is a big swing for Kaufman and the spiraling out-of-control mind is reminiscent of Mulholland Dr.  You’ll see stories of elderly people sometimes with dementia and sometimes without that wander outside and die.  You wonder what they were thinking in those last moments and what was compelling them forward…I’m Thinking of Ending Things provides a potential answer, and it isn’t very pretty.

Author: JPRoscoe View all posts by
Follow me on Twitter/Instagram/Letterboxd @JPRoscoe76! Loves all things pop-culture especially if it has a bit of a counter-culture twist. Plays video games (basically from the start when a neighbor brought home an Atari 2600), comic loving (for almost 30 years), and a true critic of movies. Enjoys the art house but also isn't afraid to let in one or two popular movies at the same time.

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