|I'm Thinking of Ending Things|
|Directed by||Charlie Kaufman|
|Screenplay by||Charlie Kaufman|
|Based on||I'm Thinking of Ending Things|
by Iain Reid
|Music by||Jay Wadley|
|Edited by||Robert Frazen|
I'm Thinking of Ending Things is a 2020 American psychological drama film written and directed by Charlie Kaufman. The film is based on the 2016 novel of the same name by Iain Reid and stars Jesse Plemons, Jessie Buckley, Toni Collette and David Thewlis.
I'm Thinking of Ending Things was released in select theaters on August 28, 2020, and on Netflix on September 4, 2020. It received positive reviews from critics, with most praise directed to Plemons and Buckley's performances, and the film's uniqueness and cinematography.
A young woman contemplates ending her six-week relationship with her boyfriend, Jake, while taking a trip to meet Jake's parents on their farm. During the drive, Jake attempts to recite a poem he read when he was younger, Ode: Intimations of Immortality, and pressures the woman into performing one of her works in the car to pass time. After she recites a morbid poem[a] about coming home, they arrive at the farmhouse. Jake takes the young woman to the barn, where he recounts a story about a maggot-infested pig. Throughout the drive, as well as later scenes in the film, the main narrative is intercut with footage of a janitor working at a high school, including scenes where he sees a musical production rehearsal, and a dance in the school's hallway.
Inside the home, the young woman notices scratches on the basement door. At dinner with Jake's parents, the woman, who is described as having different occupations, tells the story of how she and Jake met at a trivia night, told with narrative inconsistencies. Later, she notices a picture of Jake as a child, but becomes confused after recognizing that child as herself. The young woman receives another call, and a mysterious male voice explains that there is "one question to answer." Jake's parents begin to transition back and forth from their younger selves to elderly dementia patients. When the young woman takes laundry down to the basement, she discovers several identical janitor uniforms in the laundry, and receives another call from the mysterious voice.
On the drive home, Jake mentions several events of the night that the young woman does not remember, including her drinking too much wine; word association soon leads to an extended discussion of John Cassavetes's A Woman Under the Influence.[b] Finding themselves in the middle of a snowstorm, the pair stop at Tulsey Town, an ice cream parlor. They meet employees who are also students at the school the janitor works in. While the young woman buys the dessert, a bruised employee attempts to warn her of something she can't describe. Jake stops at the high school to throw the food cups away. In the parking lot, Jake notices the janitor watching them from inside the school and decides to confront him, leaving the young woman alone in the car. After a long wait, she decides to look for Jake inside the school. She meets the janitor and, among other things, tells him that nothing happened between her and Jake on the night they met.
After the young woman discovers Jake at the end of a hall, they look on as people dressed like themselves engage in a dream ballet,[c] which ends when the janitor's dancer kills Jake's dancer with a knife.
Having finished his shift, the janitor suffers a mental breakdown and begins to hallucinate visions of Jake's parents as well as an animated Tulsey Town jingle. He undresses and walks back inside the school, being led by another hallucination of a maggot-infested pig who tells him that he and his ideas are one and the same, and that he should get dressed.
On an auditorium stage, an old Jake receives a Nobel Prize[d] and sings a song[e] to a full audience of various characters, who gives him a standing ovation. In the final shot, the janitor's truck is covered in snow in the school parking lot. Towards the end of the credits, the sound of an engine turning over is heard.
It was announced in January 2018 that Charlie Kaufman was adapting Iain Reid's novel for Netflix, as well as directing. In December, Brie Larson and Jesse Plemons were cast in the film. In March 2019, Jessie Buckley, Toni Collette and David Thewlis joined the cast, with Buckley replacing Larson.
Review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes reports that 83% of 204 critic reviews are positive, with an average rating of 7.59/10. The critics' consensus for the film reads, "Aided by stellar performances from Jessie Buckley and Jesse Plemons, I'm Thinking of Ending Things finds writer-director Charlie Kaufman grappling with the human condition as only he can." On Metacritic, the film has a weighted average score of 77 out of 100 based on reviews from 45 critics, indicating "generally favorable reviews."
Wendy Ide of The Guardian gave the film four out of five stars, writing "I'm Thinking of Ending Things is one of the most daringly unexpected films of the year, a sinewy, unsettling psychological horror, saturated with a squirming dream logic that tips over into the domain of nightmares." She went on to praise Buckley's performance, describing it as "miraculous." In his review, Brian Tallerico of RogerEbert.com gave the film three and a half out of four stars, calling it "...a movie that is undeniably complex in terms of symbolism and a more surreal final act than most people will be expecting..." He also praised the cinematography, saying that the film's atmosphere is "amplified by a tight 4:3 aspect ratio courtesy of Łukasz Żal (Cold War) that forces the viewer to pay more attention to what's in frame."
In a more mixed review, Adam Graham of The Detroit News gave the film a "C" grade, praising the performances of both Plemons and Buckley, considering them "excellent", but lamented the film's plot, saying that "I'm Thinking of Ending Things is an unsolvable riddle where the only answer is mankind's hopelessness, and we've been down this road before."
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