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I'm Thinking Of Ending Things ((NEW))

I'm Thinking of Ending Things (stylized as i'm thinking of ending things) is a 2020 American surrealist psychological thriller[1] film written and directed by Charlie Kaufman. It is an adaptation of the 2016 novel of the same name by Iain Reid. The plot follows a young woman (Jessie Buckley) who goes on a trip with her boyfriend (Jesse Plemons) to meet his parents (Toni Collette and David Thewlis); throughout the film, the main narrative is intercut with footage of a school janitor (Guy Boyd) going to work, with both stories intersecting by the third act.

I'm Thinking of Ending Things

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A young woman contemplates ending her approximately seven-week relationship with her boyfriend Jake while on a trip to meet his parents at their farm. During the drive, Jake attempts to recite a poem he read when he was younger, "Ode: Intimations of Immortality", and asks the young woman to recite an original poem of hers to pass time. After she recites a morbid poem about coming home,[a] they arrive at the farmhouse owned by Jake's parents. Jake takes her to the barn, where he recounts a story about how the farm's pigs died after being eaten alive by maggots. Throughout the film, the main narrative is intercut with footage of an elderly janitor working at a high school, including scenes in which he sees students rehearsing Oklahoma! and watches a romantic comedy film.

The Netflix movie is not a walk in the park concerning how easy it is to follow the plot. The story starts simply enough with a couple that has been together for only a few months, driving to have dinner at the boyfriend's, Jake (Jesse Plemons), parents' (Toni Colette and David Thewlis) house. The young woman (Jessie Buckley) appears to want to end things with Jake. It is a fairly new relationship, and she keeps reminding herself that she has to end this. However, what appears to be a normal night rapidly starts to get weird.

Like most of Kaufman's movies, this one is confusing and at various times difficult to understand. Using a lot of metaphors and imagery to convey the internal journey of a depressed character, the two hours and twenty minutes actually seem somewhat short. Here is what really happened in I'm Thinking of Ending Things, and just what the ending of Ending means.

Once the characters arrive at the house, the parents start to act weird and change in front of their eyes. It feels like Jake's life is passing before the audience's eyes. From them having dementia and dying to becoming their younger selves, they are shown in important moments of Jake's life. The viewer infiltrates Jake's past by arriving at his house and seeing all these traumatic events. They also see his bedroom and the things he cherishes the most: books and movies.

The passage of time brings to the other important element to be able to understand this movie: decay. The narrator views getting older and the moments that lead to death as completely negative things. The idea of decay, shown by the pigs getting eaten alive by maggots, symbolizes how the character is feels about getting older or how he views the journey of aging. It can also symbolize his depression eating him alive.

The Janitor is depressed, and because of the title of the movie, it might suggest that he is contemplating ending things through suicide. That is what is happening in the book. However, the adaptation lets it be vague enough for the viewer to decide what it means.

He gives a speech to the audience which is directly lifted, from the dialogue to the shot composition, from the ending speech of the film A Beautiful Mind (the DVD of which was in Jake's room). Like so many aspects of I'm Thinking of Ending Things, Jake has assimilated different films and fictional stories into his own imaginary version of life. In an unhealthy way, this very lonesome, solitary man who had probably never left a small hometown radius in decades has taken fictional, cheesy media (from rom-coms to Oklahoma! to A Beautiful Mind) and turned it into his own life. The ending of I'm Thinking of Ending Things shows the danger of confusing art with reality, and how films can warp a person's perception of the real world in disturbing, unhealthy ways.

After finishing writer/director Charlie Kaufman's latest film, which hurls so many things at you as you watch it you find yourself bobbing and weaving just to keep up, I longed to talk it over with other people. It's that kind of movie, wrapped in a thick shroud of fully intentional ambiguity that always threatens to thin to mere vagueness, and it benefits from the kind of unpacking that grows out of discussion. But as the film wasn't out yet, I tentatively clicked on a few advance reviews.

That's fine, as far as it goes, but it doesn't begin to convey what sets I'm Thinking of Ending Things apart, or what makes it so recognizably and indelibly a film only Kaufman can or would make. I will endeavor to do so here, without spoiling What's Really Going On, by striving to keep things ambiguous, though we might have to settle for vague.

Kaufman's true target isn't anything so abstract and anodyne as "modern life," or the way it encourages us to fall into intellectual laziness and disingenuously parrot thoughts, take up positions and form identities we've cribbed from things we've read or watched or heard. No, he's directing his mocking derision at the people (let's face it: the men, overwhelmingly) who lie to themselves about their own gifts, who too-eagerly embrace the need to be seen as the smartest, the cleverest, the most special, and who resolutely fail to connect with others because of it.

"In a novel this engaging, bizarre, and twisted, it shouldn't come as a surprise that its ending is even stranger than the narrative route that takes us there...but it does. Reid's novel is a road trip to the heart of creepyness."

While the ending of the novel was somewhat disappointing, the journey was ultimately more than worth it, and the ending is almost an afterthought when I think of the book now, after finishing it. The ending barely matters in the grand scheme of the novel, which is worth every minute spent on it.

In this deeply scary and intensely unnerving debut novel, Jake and a woman known only as "The Girlfriend" are on a drive to visit his parents at their secluded farm. But when Jake leaves "The Girlfriend" stranded at an abandoned high school, what follows is a twisted unraveling of the darkest unease, an exploration into psychological frailty, and an ending as suspenseful as The Usual Suspects and as haunting as Misery.

Overall, I'm Thinking of Ending Things comes off very stage play-y: minimal sets (the car, the farmhouse, a Dairy Queen knock-off, and a school), long scenes made of very little action and very in-depth dialogue, and lots of quotes, ideas, or moments that feel allegorical as they're happening. (This surface-level analogy gets amplified by a few spoiler-y things, too.) The performances can also have their volume turned all the way up quite often. Thewlis and Collette in particular clearly had green lights to lean into their characters' weirdness as much as they pleased, and Plemons' Jake fluctuates between feeling like an illusion and a newish-but-uninspiring boyfriend. I had more than a few flashbacks to parsing Waiting for Godot in high school English class: in I'm Thinking of Ending Things, eventually you realize what's being grappled with in script was always meant to be more important than what's happening in front of your eyes.

And if I'm Thinking of Ending Things ultimately wants to say something about relationships, that something definitely isn't hopeful. Eternal Sunshine, Kaufman's masterpiece, centers on the same topic and argues the journey of falling in love is worth traversing through even if the ultimate destination is a tragic ending more often that not. But more than a decade later, Kaufman has a much different tune to play. Lucy trudges forward with Jake in this increasingly down spiraling moment without Jake showcasing any redeeming qualities. He acts like a walking citation correcting Lucy with regularity, he fails to recognize her increasingly urgent pleas to get home, and he can't be bothered to keep details of their relationship origins straight. If relationships are destined to be like this, Lucy's struggle suggests don't get in the car at all.

Despite the fact that Kaufman changed the ending from Iain Reid's original, I'm Thinking Of Ending Things concludes with an off-putting scene that rivals its source. They offer two separate interpretations of Jake's psyche and his confrontation of loneliness. Ultimately, the director chose to alter the ending based on the brutal aspects of Reid's novel that could be captured in a nuanced and captivating way, such as what was depicted in the movie's final moments.

Iain Reid concludes his novel with a brutal scene between the young woman and Jake. The Janitor (older Jake) gives her a coat hanger, which she then forces through her neck, killing them both. It reveals the novel's two biggest twists: the young woman was always a figment of Jake's imagination, and he had been thinking of ending his own life for its entirety. Kaufman altered the scene in order to capture the same realizations in a much more subdued way. It's quite possible that he was also avoiding a controversial portrayal of self-harm which could have mirrored Netflix's infamous Hannah Baker scene in season 1 of 13 Reason Why. The director also didn't want to rely solely on the big reveal.

As Jake undresses in his car, snow begins to pile on top of it until it is completely buried. This ending suggests that Jake has died within the frozen vehicle after finally accepting that he does, in fact, wish to end his life. Charlie Kaufman chose to end I'm Thinking Of Ending Things in this way in order to preserve his characters, give them agency, avoid shock-value, and provide nuance to Jake's death rather than brutality. 041b061a72


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