I was really excited for “I’m Thinking of Ending Things,” the latest movie written and directed by Charlie Kaufman. He was the writer behind some of my favorite movies, such as “Adaptation.” and “Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind,” so I was looking forward to seeing his next effort on Netflix.
Having seen nearly all his previous movies, I knew “I’m Thinking of Ending Things” was going to be pretty strange. But I couldn’t have possibly expected it to be as off-the-walls as it was.
For the record, I loved “I’m Thinking of Ending Things.” I thought the performances, direction and writing were all perfect for what the movie was.
But the film is a textbook example of “not for everyone.”
“I’m Thinking of Ending Things” stars Jessie Buckley as a young woman who is going to meet her boyfriend’s parents for the first time. It’s a premise we’ve seen roughly a thousand times before. But this fairly common jumping-off point turns into something a lot more intense.
I knew virtually nothing about the movie before I saw it. I knew it was based on a spooky book, and the trailer apparently gave off a similar vibe. But otherwise, I was going in blind.
Before I continue writing this review, I should say it’s not really a review — it’s more of a warning.
For one, “I’m Thinking of Ending Things” is extremely slow. It’s 134 minutes long, and you feel every single second. Saying it’s a movie that takes its time is an understatement.
The slow pace is exacerbated by the plot, which is just about nonexistent. Nothing happens for the rest of the movie after the premise is introduced. Once the couple arrives at the house, there’s a very obvious setup for something which could potentially be important. And while it does eventually pay off, it isn’t nearly as satisfying as it could be.
“I’m Thinking of Ending Things” just doesn’t function as a story. Unlike, say, “Parasite,” which has a heavy dose of theme on top of a really well-told and enjoyable narrative, almost nothing about the film works from a literal standpoint.
It even fails to be emotionally compelling. At least some movies that don’t really make sense can be emotionally satisfying stories, but “I’m Thinking of Ending Things” doesn’t even try to give the audience something to be attached to.
There is no better representation of this than the ending, which is absolutely insane. I won’t spoil it, but the ending completely departs from the rest of the movie in just about every way. The only way it works is when thinking about the movie thematically, otherwise, it doesn’t make the slightest bit of sense.
Once again, I say all of this as someone who loved the movie. Everything about the way it’s crafted is so remarkable, and all of it is held together by some of my favorite performances of the past few years. The film is entirely unique and unlike anything I’ve seen before — something that will always earn my respect. It’s pound-for-pound my favorite of the year, with only “Palm Springs” serving as a potential runner-up. But it wasn't an easy experience to get into.
Even if you really liked Kaufman's previous efforts, I can't guarantee you will like this one. While his other movies are a little out-there, this is a whole different animal.
If everything I said doesn't phase you, then definitely watch "I'm Thinking of Ending Things" on Netflix. While I loved the film for its technical craft and its utter strangeness, it certainly isn't for everyone.
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