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i’m thinking of ending things (2020) review

Not long after my brain has relaxed after the numerous hours of dissecting Christopher Nolan’s ‘Tenet’, Netflix decide to release the much-anticipated Charlie Kaufman movie ‘I’m Thinking of Ending Things’. My lockdown brain recovered somewhat but since watching this movie, I can confirm that it has become scrambled egg. Kaufman is a well-known American Writer and Director.  You will recognize his most popular work ‘Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind’, ‘Anomalisa’, ‘Synecdoche, New York’ and ‘Being John Malkovich’. All of these pieces of work are an exploration of the persons mind and how they react to particular real-life events that can happen to the average Joe. What we can relate to the most in his previous work is the ambiguity of his work. Does it mean this? Does it mean that? A lot of the time, I had no clue. But his films always get me thinking about the meaning of them. ‘i’m thinking of ending things’ certainly continues that Kaufman mantra of dissecting and interpreting a piece of work.

Based on the 2016 novel by Canadian author Iain Reid, the film follows The Young Woman (Jessie Buckley) and Jake (Jesse Plemons) as they are travelling to meet Jake’s parents for the first time. Their relationship is still in the early days. As mentioned in the film, The Young Woman says they have only been together for about 6-7 weeks. Her relationship with Jake doesn’t seem to be going anywhere and mentions in her head that she is thinking of ending things with Jake. As they travel and talk about Philosophical subjects, they arrive at Jakes parents house and meet Mother (Toni Collette) and Father (David Thewlis). From this point onwards, what you expect from the film and the direction its going totally shifts and takes a new path onto something very unexpected.

It’s very hard to categorize what genre this film is. It has huge undertones of a thriller/horror vibe. Although it doesn’t necessarily have the outcome of a horror or thriller as you would expect, but the build up and atmosphere slots into that category well. I suppose, psychological thriller/drama would be the best. Although, Charlie Kaufman himself said in an interview that its difficult to put the film in one specific genre. To that quote I would completely agree. Over the years, Kaufman has had this unique ability to create his own world of movies and his own genre. All his films seem to slip into his own genre that isn’t used by any other film maker. My brain is still reeling from the aftermath of the movie and trying to figure out what it all meant. Its clear that it is a study of the human mind and how people perceive what is happening at a particular moment and what could had been in certain situations.

This is certainly one of Kaufman’s best shot movies to date. This is only his fourth directing credit, his first since a personal favourite of mine, the 2015 film ‘Anomalisa’. ‘i’m thinking of ending things’ is one of the most impressive looking films of 2020. This is down to the extraordinary work by Lukasz Zal, the Polish cinematographer and two-time Academy Award nominee behind ‘Ida’ and ‘Cold War’. Not only that, but Kaufman’s work has this innate ability to amplify an actor’s work. As we all know, the main four actors in this film are great but their performances in this are just sublime. Throughout, I forgot who they were and became completely invested in their performance of their characters. The standouts are Jessie Buckley and Toni Collette, who are both on fine form and have to be in with a shout when it comes to the Oscars in 2021 (whenever that happens. DAMN YOU COVID!).

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