I’m Thinking of Ending Things (2020)

by Not Friends Cinema Club

*A temporary score… It’ll be a 5 eventually (it seems to be improving at a rate of .5 every 2 hours), but by withholding that final .5, I hope to show that I can, at the very least, show some level-headedness when it comes to reviewing the Kauf.⁣

DISCLAIMER: I am a subscriber to the school of thought that profound films generally trigger profound responses in the critic (or at least, noble attempts…); and by the same token, lazily conceived films provoke uninspired writing. Going with this logic, I blame a structureless, irrational film such as this one for an equally senseless review… ⁣

⁣Charlie Kaufman’s 𝘪’𝘮 𝘵𝘩𝘪𝘯𝘬𝘪𝘯𝘨 𝘰𝘧 𝘦𝘯𝘥𝘪𝘯𝘨 𝘵𝘩𝘪𝘯𝘨𝘴 truly is a film which can make you feel like a chin-stroking academic one minute, and an absolute muttonhead the next. ⁣

Let’s start with what I know for sure: a nameless young woman (Jessie Buckley) road-trips deep into the blizzardous countryside to meet her boyfriend’s (Jesse Plemons) parents. Also, it just so happens that this young woman is thinking of ending things… Now, it should be noted, however, that in the case of this film, what I know for sure, isn’t necessarily what is ‘real’, while what is real, can’t really be known for sure…⁣

In his 2015 feature, 𝘈𝘯𝘰𝘮𝘢𝘭𝘪𝘴𝘢, Kaufman explores the idea of the Fregoli delusion: a rare mental illness where the victim believes that different people in their life are being counterfeited and ‘performed’ by a single person. Most literally, the same theme is tackled in his debut, 𝘉𝘦𝘪𝘯𝘨 𝘑𝘰𝘩𝘯 𝘔𝘢𝘭𝘬𝘰𝘷𝘪𝘤𝘩, through ventriloquism and temporary body-snatching; but upon a closer look, it is a concept ubiquitous throughout his oeuvre. Here, Kaufman maintains this fascination for overlapping and intertwining identities, but seemingly on his most subconscious level yet. Here, time is treated with the same naive structurelessness as when one mentally reorganises memories; here, individual characters seemingly furl into one another, like viewing pregnancies in reverse.

It is for that same very reason, however, that this is one of the films that deem any criticism utterly redundant, as I’m sure Kaufman has executed what he set out to, and while I mightn’t completely understand it, who am I to dismiss it? It’d be like dismissing Kaufman himself, something I haven’t the stones to do… ⁣

Thus, this score is pretty well meaningless (as I feel everything is after seeing this movie), as I know for certain, that when I eventually do revisit this one, my score won’t be the same. But I suspect, as always with Kaufman, it can only get better…⁣

So, my suggestion: just skip ahead to the second viewing.⁣

Will Paine⁣