Directed by Charlie Kaufman
Starring Jessie Buckley, Jesse Plemons, Toni Collette, David Thewlis
A break-up movie has never been this opaque. Although this is a very wordy film, the craft of its surreal and off-putting mood make it an emotional and walloping experience. This is a challenging and cerebral film, much like Tenet, in that it’s something to be felt more than understood. I’m Thinking of Ending Things commands the comedy and horror genres in its own ways, so that it always comes across as surprising.
Charlie Kaufman lets the surrealism creep in slowly, piece by piece letting it invade this otherwise very unpeculiar story. A young woman (Jessie Buckley) is being driven by her new boyfriend (Jesse Plemons) to see his parents, though her thoughts about ending this relationship while it’s still fresh lingers in her mind.
Kaufman is known for tackling the big subjects in his work (ie love, death, life, existence), and what starts out like a mundane and usual scenario gradually blossoms into an increasingly surreal piece of work that starts referencing big concepts of reality and identity. It’s most like his previous film Anomalisa in its regular scenes (very long and dialogue-heavy scenes) and most like his directing debut Synecdoche, New York in its bizarre moments (warped timelines, characters merging with each other).
As the film trucks along at a snail-pace, always revealing clues but never defined answers, it builds up an incredible amount of vague tension and uneasiness. This sort of feeling is harshly felt throughout, whether it’s by the oppressive snowy storm outside or the eerily quiet of the parents’ home.
This film may seem, ultimately, too abstract and confounding to grasp onto at all. But there’s a plethora of clues available and as you start piecing them together (perhaps with the help of theories online), it will start to seem more and more structured, without being entirely up-front. I’m Thinking of Ending Things is the kind of film that will elicit all sorts of emotions, not all positive, but it’s something that will haunt you as you’re watching it and longer after it’s over.