I’m Thinking of Ending Things: I loved it and I am excited to watch it again. 2020 has been an unprecedented year, and somehow Charlie Kaufman’s strange-beautiful film on life, time, death, and the human condition brought me fulfilled joy.
I was finally challenged, with a film from this year that presented an unclassifiable craft and uncompromising darkness. Charlie Kaufman's newest masterpiece is a film I will be studying for the years to come. My head was spinning as we gazed into a glass window with actors Jessie Buckley and Jesse Plemons drifting to another dimension. This was by far the most Kaufman-esque movie one could hope for. It was a mysterious puzzle of the meaning of life and the loneliness that tries to conspire. I think I am safe to say that I’m Thinking of Ending Things is my new favorite film of 2020. First off, for viewers who have never seen a Kaufman film before, I would recommend you do your homework and watch some of his earlier films before viewing I’m Thinking of Ending Things.
This will help give you a better understanding of Kaufman's existentialism and overall craft. Kaufman first pulled me in back in the day with his exquisite writing in Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (2004). It was a psychological drama that studied memory, romantic love, and heartbreak. Kaufman’s nonlinear structure blossomed beautifully on the screen along with spectacular performances by Jim Carrey and Kate Winslet. As a first time viewer to Kaufman material, I would recommend first watch films that he has written, like Being John Malkovich (1999), Adaptation (2002), and or Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (2004). Then, I would move up to films that he has both written and directed, like Synecdoche, New York (2008), and or Anomalisa (2015). In Anomalisa, Kaufman somehow managed to make a claymation movie feel more human than most human films.
This will allow viewers to see Kaufman’s craft evolve throughout his writing and directing. Kaufman’s style is very unique, and he matured more over time with his material, while the themes continue to get heavier and heavier. If one would start with I’m Thinking of Ending Things, it may be too much material for the viewer to jump into headfirst. Kaufman has always grappled with morality, loneliness, and our place in the universe, but these topics seemed to be dramatically more poignant in I’m Thinking of Ending Things. I believe this is because Kaufman has been able to build off his previous films. Looking at this movie, I loved how Kaufman remained vague throughout most of the beginning and middle of this film — only planting small seeds for the viewers. Here, we explored tough themes on morality, identity, and loneliness. This painted a beautiful and complex portrait of the meaning of life. The scene where Plemons sings Lonely Room from Oklahoma! was both heartbreaking and astonishing at the same time. Kaufman will always be a master for presenting surrealist views through the medium. What is fascinating about Kaufman movies is that he embodies the sadness and meditates on the existential — leaving us, as the viewer, too reexamine ourselves.
Without giving too much away, I’m Thinking of Ending Things follows a young woman (a potent Jessie Buckley) who is questioning her relationship with her boyfriend Jake (a top-notch Jesse Plemons). The couple set off on a road trip to visit Jake’s family farm (a never better Toni Collette and David Thewlis). A snowstorm is prevailing around them as they make their way to the farm. On the farm, the young woman begins to question the nature of everything she knew or understood about her boyfriend, herself, and the world. This evaluation allows us, as the viewer, to question how we study the structure of the film itself and reevaluate our own messy lives. I’m Thinking of Ending Things touches on some heavy topics on regret, yearning, and the fragility of the human condition. There are good portions of this film that sit back and let Buckley and Plemons take control the conversation about philosophy and purpose to oneself. These scenes take place mostly in the car, often with little to no edit cuts and very scarce music. These conversations are raw and uncut, like how real-life can be. They are not polished, nor are they smooth. They are rigid, yet they find purpose through words and emotions — ever flowing throughout the screen.
Finally, I’m Thinking of Ending Things unveils an identity factor throughout the film. Most notably during Plemons’ striking Lonely Room scene. Here, Plemons displayed past regret and remorse, but also unveiled his identity has a human being. Plemons beautifully captured this thanks to his skillful acting and emotional power. In addition, Buckley shined throughout the film, with her heavy-handed acting chops and a keen sense of dialogue. Watching from Buckley's perspective will gut you to your core. In the end, the beauty of a Kaufman film is that we could dissect all of his movies in ten different ways and still probably come up with new meanings and ideas every time. He is one of our greatest filmmakers in Hollywood right now. Kaufman's latest picture receives a 5-star review from me. I’m Thinking of Ending Things is currently my favorite film of 2020, and it's also one of the best.
I'm Thinking of Ending Things is rated R (Restricted) For language including some sexual references.
This masterpiece is directed by Charlie Kaufman
Starring Jessie Buckley, Jesse Plemons, Toni Collette, David Thewlis, and Guy Boyd.
Available to stream on Netflix.
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