i’m thinking of ending things is what’s going through the mind of the young woman – referred to as such in the credits, albeit named both Lucy and Louisa during the film – played by Jessie Buckley (Beast).
And at the time you need it least, what would be the most annoying thing to potentially tip you over the edge? Meeting the in-laws… or in this case, her boyfriend Jake’s (Jesse Plemons – The Irishman) parents, since they’re not married… yet?
As per the title, she keeps talking about it to herself in her head, yet others seem to hear it at times. In fact, she’s not even sure if she should still be in this particular relationship as she’s not sure where it’s going, but for this evening, she’ll make do.
He takes her to his parents’ house and farm – driving there in the increasingly heavy, snowy weather – where things didn’t go well for the pigs and all of the sheep that live there, causing her to muse that humans are the only animals who know the inevitability of their own death.
Albeit bookended by a car journey there and back, the best segment of this film is when they reach their destination, where Jake’s parents (Toni Collette and David Thewlis) are brilliantly eccentric in what’s a very bizarre dinner table discussion, and with the screenwriter/director Charlie Kaufman‘s choice to shoot this in an old-style 4:3 aspect ratio, the camera is sometimes shown trailing back and forth along a dolly to get from one side of a room to the other.
i’m thinking of ending things (yes, in lower-case) has a ton of weird stuff going on with nothing ever really explained – if at all, such as scratches on the cellar door which are blamed on their dog, then said canine continually shaking its head as if forever drying itself; the couple passing a new swing set in front of an abandoned house as they make their journey, Lucy/Louisa keeps getting calls and texts from someone on her mobile phone, Jake’s mother having exceedingly rotten toenails, and the appearance of the parents – age-wise – keeps changing depending on which room they’re in, while the plaster on the father’s head keeps switching sides.
This is juxtaposed with scenes of an elderly school janitor driving away from his house with a religious radio station playing, and then going about his day, although I think I figured out the connection with him… possibly.
And as an aside, the parents have a twin-tub washing machine, the same as my grandparents used to have, many moons ago. In fact, I don’t think I ever saw them use anything else.
There’s also some interesting weird shifts with time perception but, however, there are some scenes in this overlong movie which make zero sense, such as the ballet scene towards the end, rather leading to the film falling apart before my eyes.
So, while Charlie Kaufman has brought us some brilliant films in writer and/or director form, such as Being John Malkovich, Adaptation, Confessions Of A Dangerous Mind, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind and Anomalisa, it’s clear that I do like films which have a ‘weird for the sake of being weird’ moment or ten, but this? It was just beyond stupid.
Just one slightly annoying thing about the end credits, which is down to the way Netflix handle these things. As the credits appear, the background blurs out a bit, but just at the end, it comes back into focus, as if something is going to happen, but… the film just ends there, a couple of seconds later. Trouble is with Netflix, they ZOOM the screen into a tiny square and there’s no way round that, even if you replay that bit again afterwards, since they do it just to plug something else over the majority of the screen. I wish they’d give an option to stop that happening!
Running time: 135 minutes
Release date: September 4th 2020
Format: 1.33:1 (ARRIRAW (4.5K))
Director: Charlie Kaufman
Producers: Stefanie Azpiazu, Anthony Bregman, Charlie Kaufman, Iain Reid, Robert Salerno
Screenplay: Charlie Kaufman
Novel: Iain Reid
Music: Jay Wadley
Young woman: Jessie Buckley
Jake: Jesse Plemons
Mother: Toni Collette
Father: David Thewlis
Janitor: Guy Boyd
Tulsey Town Employee #1 / Laurie: Hadley Robinson
Tulsey Town Employee #2 / Aunt Eller: Gus Birney
Tulsey Town Employee #3: Abby Quinn
Yvonne: Colby Minifie
Yvonne’s boyfriend: Jason Ralph
Diner manager: Anthony Grasso
Diner customer: Teddy Coluca
The Voice: Oliver Platt
Dancing janitor: Frederick E Wodin
Dancing Jake: Ryan Steele
Dancing young woman: Unity Phelan
Reviewer of movies, videogames and music since 1994. Aortic valve operation survivor from the same year. Running DVDfever.co.uk since 2000. Nobel Peace Prize winner 2021.