I’m Thinking of Ending Things is available to stream on Netflix beginning September 4.
By I. Simon
Whether it be his screenwriting debut Being John Malkovich, Adaptation., his Oscar-winning work on Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, or his first two directorial efforts in Synecdoche, New York and Anomalisa, it’s easy to understand why many recognize Charlie Kaufman as one of the greatest and most creative voices in contemporary cinema. So it goes without saying that I was very much looking forward to I’m Thinking of Ending Things, which not only marks Kaufman’s third feature as a director, but also quite a few firsts for the auteur as well: 1) It’s Kaufman’s first film to be based on a fictional novel, 2) It’s Kaufman’s first time attempting to veer into psychological horror territory, and, last but not least, 3) It’s Kaufman’s first film to be a Netflix production.
After watching the movie, it makes perfect sense why Kaufman turned to Netflix to produce and release the film instead of a traditional theatrical distributor. I’m Thinking of Ending Things is the kind of ambitious and idiosyncratic film that most studios would be too scared to produce. Furthermore, Kaufman’s newest masterpiece might just be the most unique film that the streaming service has ever released.
It‘s nearly impossible to talk about I’m Thinking of Ending Things in depth without going into spoilers, yet at the same time, it’s best to go into this film as blind as possible for how unorthodox and unpredictable it is. It’s also the kind of film that almost certainly demands multiple viewings to fully unpack. Therefore, I won’t really be saying much about the narrative. However, I will mention that what Kaufman does here is absolutely fascinating and ingenious (I haven’t read the novel, so I can’t compare). Not only is I’m Thinking of Ending Things a unique take on both a character piece and a relationship drama, but the film is also unafraid of being weird in how it plays with genres, including elements of psychological horror, dark comedy, and there are even musical elements present here.
It’s audacious in every sense of the word, and every choice made here pays off beautifully because of how masterful Kaufman’s writing and direction are, especially in how he utilizes the compositions, editing, sound design, and score in various interesting and unique ways. In that respect, credit must be given to cinematographer Lukasz Zal, editor Robert Frazen, composer Jay Wadley, and everyone who worked in the sound department for their contributions here. This is very much the work of an artist who is very much on the same page with their crew in bringing a singular vision to the screen, one that could not have been made otherwise.
That said, the performances are also key to the success of I’m Thinking of Ending Things, and this is without question the best core ensemble I’ve seen in any film this year. While all four central actors are unquestionably stellar, it’s Jessie Buckley who especially shines, giving an absolutely phenomenal performance — one that is mostly subtle and reserved by intent — as a character who is highly conflicted and mostly tries to keep that conflict internalized. Buckley has shown potential in films prior to this, one of them being last year’s Wild Rose (a film that I didn’t particularly care for outside of her exceptional performance), and I’m Thinking of Ending Things confirms that she is most definitely a talent to watch for.
Again, I wish I could talk more about I’m Thinking of Ending Things and how sublime the film is, but doing so would likely ruin it for those who haven’t already seen it.
In sum, what Charlie Kaufman and co. have created here is something to be admired. It’s thoroughly evident that every single person involved in making this film genuinely cared about the film they were making, as I’m Thinking of Ending Things is the best film of the year, bar none. All in all, I absolutely adored it all, and I strongly recommend seeing it as soon as it hits Netflix.
I give I’m Thinking of Ending Things an A+.