I'M THINKING OF ENDING THINGS -- An Impressively Surreal Psychological Horror from the Mind of Charlie Kaufman
Review by Sean Boelman
Filmmaker Charlie Kaufman has become well-known by fans for his brand of mind-bending surrealism, no matter what genre he is writing. His first direct foray into psychological horror (although one could argue that there are elements of the genre found in many of his scripts), i’m thinking of ending things, is as weird and ambitious as expected, and is one that viewers will be talking about for years to come.
In a basic sense, the movie follows a young woman who begins to question herself when she goes to dinner at her boyfriends’ parents’ farmhouse. However, those who are familiar with Kaufman’s work (or Iain Reid’s novel that inspired the film), will know that there is a lot more to the story than that, as Kaufman spins an elaborate and sometimes hard-to-follow web of realities and falsehoods.
The pacing here is pretty absorbing, but will not at all appeal to general audiences. But if one is willing to sit and analyze Kaufman’s intricate plotting (and it will likely take multiple viewings to fully grasp everything that he is trying to do), they will undeniably form a respect for his absurd take on relationships and mortality.
The first act, dialogue-driven and extremely poetic, is perhaps the most effective, benefitting from the actors bouncing lines off of each other with a wonderful rhythm. Things then get weird in the second part before going completely out the window for a finale that will obviously be divisive.
Kaufman’s use of character development is definitely intriguing, and while it is difficult to reveal exactly what makes it so unique without spoiling some of the surprises it has in store, it’s not quite like anything you’ve ever seen before. If Anomalisa seemed crazy, it’s nothing compared to this.
Jessie Buckley and Jesse Plemmons are both amazing in their roles. They are both very undervalued talents, so it’s nice to see them getting their due with complex material that allows them to shine. Toni Collette and David Thewlis are also great, but it is Buckley and Plemmons whose turns will haunt viewers’ minds.
There’s a very unique visual style to the movie, particularly in the final act that doubles down on Kaufman’s usually dreamlike visuals. It’s an undeniably impressive feat that Kaufman pulls off, going from long sequences of dialogue contained in a car to some nightmarish and abstract imagery that are both gorgeous and disturbing.
It’s difficult to describe i’m thinking of ending things, and it can be hard-to-follow, demanding a re-watch to really even understand it. That said, it is Kaufman’s vision brought to life in an unflinching manner and is fascinating to dissect.
i’m thinking of ending things streams on Netflix beginning September 4.