Review | ‘I’m Thinking of Ending Things’ Should Have…Differently

Charlie Kaufman’s long-awaited Netflix original film is very unconventional and bold. Unfortunately, the screenplay suffers from over-explaining the philosophy of life.

With @Netflix’s ‘I’m Thinking of Ending Things’, this book adaptation starts out as a young woman questioning her relationship, ends up being a convoluted study on ageism and life itself. 

I’m Thinking Of Ending Things has a very intriguing first half, then somehow falls apart. All the while, it spirals into an ending that doesn’t quite suit what came before it.

Let’s take a deeper dive into I’m Thinking of Ending Things.

It Got Me Thinking Too

'I'm Thinking of Ending Things' is a convoluted tale of ... well, we're not sure.
Source: Netflix/Likely Story/Projective Testing Service

At first, Kaufman explores the layers of what it means to be in a relationship. Rather, how to get out of one that didn’t feel quite right. ‘The Young Woman,’ played by Jessie Buckley, has this internal monologue that highlights what is wrong in her relationship. She does voice overs while her boyfriend Jake, played by Jesse Plemons, is talking to her. They both gave solid, individual performances but the script is what caused this to be so confusing and sometimes uncomfortable.

Candidly, it just felt really messy and over-saturated with philosophical symbolism, by the end it seemed like Kaufman got lost in what he was trying to convey as well.

The tonal shifts throughout the film were very abrupt, which put a damper on trying to make any thematic connections. Every time I thought I understood what Kaufman was trying to say, he took it to an entirely different place. And each time, it left me confused with what was happening in The Young Woman’s mind.

In one scene, they both travel to the outskirts of farm country to have a formal family dinner and to meet Jake’s parents. The Young Woman becomes more cynical and suddenly, she is scared of her future. All the typical questions you would ask yourself in a troubled relationship is put on display in this film.

  • Am I going to be like this in 10 years?
  • What is going to happen if I leave my significant other?
  • And, what if I don’t succeed?

The future is undetermined and that is what makes it so terrifying. With that fear and uncertainty in full view makes this film hard to sit through if you’re not in the right headspace.

“Humans can’t live in the present, so they invented hope.”

THE YOUNG WOMAN (JESSIE BUCKLEY) ‘I’M THINKING OF ENDING THINGS”

Character PSYCHOLOGY Ending Things

In a way, the home of Jake’s parents became the layers of The Young Woman’s mind, as she assessed the lives of his father (David Thewlis) and mother (Toni Collette).

There are so many ways to study the psychology of these characters because The Young Woman feels stuck and envisions her future with her in-laws. As Kaufman changes the location to the farm home of Jake’s parents, the mental state of the characters begins to change. It is almost as if there is this haunting presence in the home.

The dinner table scene between all four of them is the most intriguing moment in this entire film. The woman processes who her in-laws would be in the future. Meanwhile, she still imagining how Jake’s parents got to this point in their own relationship. This is where the film changes and Kaufman begins to play with the imagination of his characters.

I’m Thinking Of Ending Things is a mixture of an existential crisis, relationship issues, and family dysfunction, that loses all meaning in the third act. It becomes unbearable to listen to The Young Woman ramble on about life without actually making any points. It’s almost as if Charlie Kaufman is trying to recreate his previous work to continue his ongoing theme of heartbreaking relationships that address mental illnesses.

Overall, this one just falls through entirely because he tried to do too much with it.

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