I’m Thinking of Ending Things

Review by Rich Cline | 4/5   MUST must see SEE

I'm Thinking of Ending Things
dir-scr Charlie Kaufman
prd Anthony Bregman, Charlie Kaufman, Robert Salerno, Stefanie Azpiazu
with Jesse Plemons, Jessie Buckley, Toni Collette, David Thewlis, Guy Boyd, Hadley Robinson, Gus Birney, Abby Quinn, Colby Minifie, Anthony Grasso, Teddy Coluca, Jason Ralph
release US 28.Aug.20,
UK 4.Sep.20
20/US Netflix 2h14

plemons buckley thewlis

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I'm Thinking of Ending Things
A riot of fabulous wallpaper, this dreamlike movie from the mind of Charlie Kaufman takes a riveting journey from warm drama into unsettling horror. The dialog is dense and full of meaning, circling around huge themes and peppering conversations with knowing references to art, science and philosophy. As the story meanders along, it becomes a mind-bending exploration of life's biggest questions, a movie we feel without fully understanding.
In Middle America, a young woman (Buckley) is wrestling with her thoughts as she travels with her boyfriend Jake (Plemons), to meet his parents (Collette and Thewlis), thinking she should be more excited about this. But she knows her attachment to Jake is real, even if he seems too nice to base a future on. When they arrive at the remote farm as a blizzard sets in, things begin to feel strange, from a too-jolly dinner to the sight of her own childhood photo on the wall. And time doesn't seem to progress properly here.
Over the course of this long night of the soul, or perhaps it's a trip down memory lane, Buckley's stream-of-conscious inner monolog repeatedly includes the film's title. With unnerving resonance, she maintains observational intensity even as everything around her becomes rather slippery. Kaufman catches random details that ground each scene in comfortable reality amid scattershot observations. And cutaways to a lonely janitor (Boyd) offer intriguing contrasts that dovetail later on.

The actors are extraordinary, reflecting "performances" in everyday life. Buckley has the most engaging role as a painter and university student trying to act nonplussed by Jake's odd parents. It's a frankly astonishing, understated turn as a woman who's bright, charming, funny and perhaps not who she seems to be. Plemons is also terrific as the likeable Jake, quietly recoiling from his parents, who are played with bonkers down-home charm by the superb Collette and Thewlis.

At times, there's so much going on that it feels overwhelming, whether it's ripples of unusual behaviour, awkward conversation, laughing too hard at a joke or the sense that reality is slipping, including this young woman's name and field of study. Where this goes is fascinating, as Kaufman and his cast maintain a light tone even when the story takes some unnerving, surreal turns, including an elaborate dance number and a stage musical finale. This film is inventively grappling with a wide range of issues about identity and existence. And it's so original that we can't help but be deeply moved.

cert 15 themes, language, violence 4.Sep.20

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