You ever sit through a movie that manages to make you feel so helplessly empty inside? No? Well, Charlie Kaufman’s latest Netflix original may just have you covered in that department.
Adapted from the novel of the same name by author Iain Reid, I’m Thinking of Ending Things tells the story of a young couple, driving through a blizzard to meet the boyfriend’s parents, for the very first time on their secluded farm. As the title may suggest, the relationship isn’t all sunshine and rainbows, and the further we follow their treacherous journey, the more apparent that becomes.
Kaufman’s chaotic piece on relationships and the harsh realities which coincide with such, is a lethargic, script heavy slog, of pure self-indulgence. A story in which there’s very little exterior, but the interior is an M.C. Escher puzzle that you have to decide for yourself, whether or not you’re prepared to decipher every little metaphor, deep meaning or theory behind its ambitious script.
I don’t consider there to be any separation of ‘acts’ as such. It’s merely a road trip that just feels like one lengthy scene which hits different obstacles. There’s an occasional break from the claustrophobic confines of the car, which much of the story takes place, but the film predominantly hangs on the balance of its incredibly mundane conversation. Loneliness, death and regret are constant topics discussed throughout. If after thirty minutes you’ve already decided it’s too much for you, then likelihood is, it won’t get better.
It boasts an impressive cast made up of Jessie Buckley, Jesse Plemons, David Thewlis and Toni Collette. All of whom, thankfully make the most of what material they have. The introduction of the latter however, is when the film reaches its most bearable (if not bizarre) segment. You feel the constant tension between the leads through their conversation is awkward enough to sit through, the family meeting only exasperates that further.
Keeping in touch with the gloomy nature of its screenplay, Lukasz Zal’s cinematography is breathtakingly bleak. With so much of the movie’s runtime being focused on the car journey, during the late hours of the night, there’s really not much to look at, aside from the snow that quickly builds up around them. But that is just kind of the point. It’s a depressing film to sit through, and every frame feels like something you could pluck right out of a Radiohead music video.
Much like the journey our two protagonists’ take throughout its runtime, Kaufman’s movie maze is disorientating, awkward, distressing and endlessly dull. But it has the colour palette to go along with it. Enriched with thought provoking metaphors and home to already plenty of theories and discussions online, which go into detail about every little nook and cranny woven into its complex narrative, I’m Thinking of Ending Things is a film perhaps best enjoyed when you’re prepared to accept the melancholy etched in its story. Otherwise, I’m thinking it could make you want to end your Netflix subscription.
Have you seen Kaufman’s latest project? If so what did you think, and how does it fare with his other writing credits? Feel free to drop a message below.