By: Amanda Guarragi
Charlie Kaufman’s long awaited Netflix Original Film is very unconventional and bold, but the screenplay suffers from over explaining the philosophy of life. What starts out as a young woman, questioning her relationship, ends up being a convoluted study on ageism and life itself. I’m Thinking Of Ending Things has a very intriguing first half and then it somehow falls apart, as it spirals into an ending that doesn’t quite suit what came before it.
At first, Kaufman explores the layers of what it means to be in a relationship, or rather, how to get out of one that didn’t feel quite right. The Young Woman, played by Jessie Buckley, has this internal monologue that highlights what is wrong in her relationship by doing a voiceover, while her boyfriend Jake, played by Jesse Plemons, is talking to her. They both gave solid, individual performances but the script is what caused this to be so confusing and sometimes uncomfortable.
It just felt really messy and oversaturated with philosophical symbolism, by the end it seemed like Kaufman got lost in what he was trying to convey as well. The tonal shifts throughout the film were very abrupt, which put a damper on trying to make any thematic connections whatsoever. Every time I thought I understood what Kaufman was trying to say, he took it to an entirely different place leaving me confused with what was happening in The Young Woman’s mind.
As they both travel to the outskirts of farm country to have a formal family dinner, to meet Jake’s parents, The Young Woman becomes more cynical and she is now scared of her future.
“Humans can’t live in the present, so they invented hope.”The Young Woman (Jessie Buckley) ‘I’m Thinking of Ending Things”
In a way, the home of Jake’s parents became the layers of The Young Woman’s mind, as she assessed the lives of his father (David Thewlis) and mother (Toni Collette). There are so many ways to study the psychology of these characters because The Young Woman feels stuck and envisions her future with her in laws.
I’m Thinking Of Ending Things is a mixture of an existential crisis, relationship issues and family dysfunction, that loses all meaning in the 3rd act. It becomes unbearable to listen to The Young Woman ramble on about life without actually making any points. It’s almost as if Kaufman is trying to recreate his previous work to continue his ongoing theme of heartbreaking relationships that address mental illnesses. This one just falls through entirely because he tried to do too much with it.