I’m Thinking of Ending Things swiftly establishes an engaging reality and then unexpectedly transforms into something more strangely thought-provoking and erriely mysterious. Discussion in regards to the outcome of the plot and its meaning is sure to follow after viewing; that is for those able to sit through this artsy slow burn indie. Director and Writer Charlie Kaufman (who wrote Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind and Being John Malkovich) boasts an audaciously ambiguous plot (based on the 2016 novel by Iain Reed) that demands patience but will deliver on its spell-binding performances by its A-list cast and unusually mysterious and open-to-interpretation narrative.
A young woman (Jessie Buckley) ventures out with her boyfriend Jake (Jesse Plemons) to meet his parents (Toni Collette and David Thewlis) during unpredictable snowy weather. Buckley’s character repeatedly expresses the necessity of returning home at some point that night, as she has responsibilities the following day and Plemons’s character assures her that they will return before the end of the night. What follows is an uneasy parent meeting and an unfathomable nightmare.
This horror is not your run-of-the-mill disposable jump scare horror. Instead, you are going to be greeted with enchanting performances that take you on a perplexingly bizarre 4:3 aspect ratio journey and may be too wild for some to digest. This plot is not straightforward, often confusing, and requires the audience to standby in uncertainty, appreciate insane weirdness, and stay in-tune until it's incalculable ending. Watch with subtitles on, as the script is incredibly wordy and an audience will benefit from being able to cling to everything they are given to work with.
Pacing is excruciatingly slow. Conversations will linger on for incredible long periods of time, from one of the first scenes featuring a car ride that runs for 20 minutes. Scenes that unfold for an abnormal amount of time do feature great character building moments and initially shape what may seem like a straight-forward horror. It is at the end of the second act where you will quickly realize that what you are watching is not what it appears to be.
Our four main cast members work beautiful with one another and that is one facet I thoroughly appreciated and something this film needed in order to hold the attention of its audience. Buckley and Plemmons disagree on several different things throughout the film and each is subtly passive aggressive with communicating their perspective. Toni Collete brings an enchanting high-energy to the film as a caring, yet borderline psychotic, mother. David Thewlis has an interesting moment when his character suddenly ages, gets dementia, and is having a conversation with Buckley’s character where she doesn’t appear to be phased to the degree that she should be.
Along the lines of Midsommar and Mulholland Drive, Kaufman has produced a film that is challenging and your ultimate enjoyment is going to hinge on if that challenge is worth that final outcome. Similar to building a puzzle without looking at the put-together result, some are going to love the picture that begins to take form while others will definitely call it uniquely intriguing but not worth the drudgery of having to piece it all together. I fall somewhere in the middle; there're so many moments I’m lost and some parts are frustrating when all you see is insanity unleashed one scene after another without knowing how to make sense of it all. However, when the film was over I could not stop thinking about what I had watched, wanted to research the novel, and the more I mulled over the film, the more I began to appreciate it. In fact, I listened to the first half while going to the store through my headphones in an attempt to try to pick up on some things I might have missed! Not too many films elicit that response.
I’m Thinking of Ending Things - Streaming on Netflix September 4, 2020.
|Final Verdict:||An artsy slow burn that demands patience during uncertainty but will deliver through its spell-binding performances and an unusually mysterious and ambiguous narrative.|