Title: I’m Thinking of Ending Things
Release Date: September 4, 2020
Director: Charlie Kaufman
Production Company: Likely Story | Projective Testing Service
This surreal film (from the writer of Adaptation, Confessions of a Dangerous Mind, and Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, among others) begins with a young woman’s (Jessie Buckley) internal monologue where she considers breaking up with her boyfriend of seven weeks, Jake (Jesse Plemons). The pair are driving through an increasingly strong snow storm where she will meet Jake’s parents (Toni Collette and David Thewlis) for the first time.
The woman notices some odd things but misses quite a few more that are readily apparent to the viewer. There are time jumps, characters age and grow younger, people change clothing, and everyone acts erratically. The woman is referred to be various names and is said to work at very different jobs but only rarely seems to notice this herself. And to add to the oddity, the movie is intercut with scenes of a janitor (Guy Boyd) cleaning a high school, later revealed to be Jake’s alma mater.
Metaphorically, this movie may work as exploring the unreality of the woman going through the motions of meeting her boyfriend’s parents when she’s already planning to dump him. It also captures that eerie experience of visiting a partner’s home town, family home, school, etc. and the feeling that it’s like visiting a museum of their past. But as the movie goes on, the underlying message feels like it could be something else entirely. In fact, the characters could just be memories or a dream or a hallucination (this last thought reinforced by a bizarre homage to A Beautiful Mind) of someone, perhaps the janitor.
I like weird movies but this one is a bit too slow moving and precious for its own good, so it’s merely a good thing to watch once and say “Huh?” rather than to dive in with revisits. But the strong acting performances and surreal cinematography do make that one watch worthwhile.