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I Am Thinking Of Ending Things

This is Charlie Kaufman’s latest film (Screenwriter for Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, Being John Malkovich, Adaptation; Director for Anomalisa and Synecdoche, New York). At the start, we are with a couple who are in a new relationship who are on their way to meet his parents; the woman (Jessie Buckley, who was great in Wild Rose) is thinking to herself, “I am thinking of ending things”. Her boyfriend (Jessie Plemons) seems to be reading her mind and asks her if she said something. That is the start of a very strange yet highly creative film. I won’t even try to explain it, as everyone will probably have a somewhat different take on what is happening and what happens at the end, and to say much about the story would spoil the film a bit. But I will describe how I felt. The movie is very deeply psychological, much like Kaufman’s other films. In some ways, we are taken to the depths of what is meaningful. The film shifts around in time, and various characters at various times in their lives mysteriously come and go. In some ways, I was reminded of a David Lynch film, like Mulholland Drive. There are some aspects of a psychological thriller. Most of the film takes place during a snowstorm, and I kept being reminded of The Shining. It is a bit spooky in places, but there is a larger story going on that keeps it from really becoming a horror movie. The acting by all is superb. The two leads are wonderful, but I also love the performances by Toni Collette and David Thewlis, who played his parents and are both amazing. I found them and the family interactions to be incredibly funny and also incredibly quirky. I really loved the screenplay; it is inventive, and there are some moments that just took my breath away. Two examples among several are the scene in the car around their discussion of the film, A Woman Under the Influence, and the dance scene in the school near the end of the film. This film gets a big thumbs up from me. I don’t think I picked up on all of the nuances and references to authors and films – and there are many – but I also didn’t really need to; there is a “meta-story” that has its own sense of poetry and meaning that I got into and really enjoyed. At some point, I will watch it again, maybe after I read the book it is based on and see Oklahoma. I don’t know that the film is for everyone, but if you are a Charlie Kaufman fan – and I certainly am – definitely watch it. (2020; 4.5 Stars)

About Gary Burkholder

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