From critically acclaimed writer/director Charlie Kaufman comes I’m Thinking of Ending Things, the story of a ‘Young Woman’ who travel’s to an isolated farm to meet her boyfriend’s parents. Upon arriving, she starts to question everything about her relationship and herself.
I, for one, went into this film with both excitement and trepidation. The excitement stemmed from the fact that Kaufman is a renowned director and the trailer sold itself really well. The trepidation stemmed from the fact that I didn’t respond to his most recent film, Anomalisa (2015), all too well. When it comes to the narrative, it kicks off really well, easing you into this world where everything is being experienced through the perspective of Jessie Buckley’s ‘Young Woman’. Kaufman creates a great connection between the audience and this main character in a way that provides a vessel to experience these crazy events through.
From here the narrative is quite engaging, gradually building on this eerie and unsettling tone as things get progressively weird. For the first half of the film it’s this consistent unraveling of the mind that had me hooked, however, at a certain point going into the latter half, or rather the third act, it completely lost me. The narrative was abstract enough to follow initially, but at a certain point it became entirely uninteresting and I was so detached from what was happening that it bored me to death. Whether I understood what was happening through this third act or not wasn’t a concern anymore since I had lost all interest in the story, the characters and any underlying themes.
Based on the critical reception, this isn’t the popular opinion but I guess Kaufman’s filmmaking and storytelling style just isn’t for me. The concept of what goes on through the latter half of the movie is great; as a concept it’s very intriguing subject matter. However, Kaufman’s heavily symbolic approach just didn’t appeal to me in the slightest.
Where I can’t say I enjoyed this film from a narrative perspective, the performances are absolutely spectacular across the board. Both Jessie Buckley and Jesse Plemons are stellar in their lead roles, however, the stand-outs for me are Toni Collette and David Thewlis who play Mother and Father, respectively. Their performances are utterly mesmerising, perfectly encapsulating the insanity of what is going on through their very layered performances. Toni Collette specifically had me entirely hooked through every scene of hers, a pure masterclass in acting.
Stylistically, it’s a very elegant film in terms of how it’s shot, the stunning yet creepy set design and the use of a 4:3 aspect ratio. The aspect ration is a brilliant touch by Kaufman, really amplifying the claustrophobic tone that is looming throughout the film. It makes everything much tighter and only benefits it. The very specific style transitions right through to the score which is brilliantly integrated to draw you into the narrative.
In the end, I don’t have much more to say about this film other than it’s just not for me. I was on board for half of it, however, at a certain point it became too much. It descended to a point where I lost all interest in the story and could have honestly switched it off without giving it a second thought. The performances are brilliant, the building unsettling tone is great and the visual aesthetic is absolutely beautiful, so even if the story doesn’t hook you, at least there are some redeeming qualities.