Movie Review: I’m Thinking Of Ending Things starring Jessie Buckley & Jesse Plemons

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I’m Thinking Of Ending Things

Distributor: Netflix
Production Companies: Likely Story & Projective Testing Service
Director: Charlie Kaufman
Producers: Anthony Bregman, Charlie Kaufman, Robert Salerno & Stephanie Azpiazu
Scriptwriter: Charlie Kaufman
Main Cast: Jessie Buckley & Jesse Plemons
Released: September 4 2020
Running Time: 134 Minutes
Certificate: 15

Charlie Kaufman’s third directorial effort, I’m Thinking Of Ending Things, is much more abstract and surreal than what preceded it and definitely packs a punch. However, as a whole, it is rather hit and miss. I have always been quite a big fan of Charlie Kaufman’s films; Eternal Sunshine Of The Spotless Mind and Adaptation are some of my most favourite films of all-time.

His skill at exploring the human condition in unique and refreshing ways is frankly unmatched in my opinion, and his recent films which have seen him in the added role of director have further displayed this skill. Synecdoche, New York and Anomalisa are incredibly poignant movies which I highly suggest you watch as soon as you can. So, you can imagine I was looking forward to seeing another film from him. However, to me, I’m Thinking Of Ending Things is something of a step down from those previous two films.


I’m Thinking Of Ending Things is about a young woman (Jessie Buckley) going through a surreal experience while she and her boyfriend, Jake (Jesse Plemons), go on a trip to visit his isolated parents for the first time. All the while, her doubts about whether the relationship can last consume her.


Trying to explain what exactly happens in the film is somewhat of a challenge. A great deal of the film sees the two leads talking about various different subjects as they drive to and from the secluded farmhouse of Jake’s parents. The rest is so abstract and surreal that it’ll give David Lynch a run for his money. The film is a puzzle piece, one which can be genuinely fascinating and eerie at points, but also extremely frustrating and tedious at others. It reminds me very much of Synecdoche, New York, as it seems, at least from my interpretation, to also be exploring the mortality of human beings. However, I’m Thinking of Ending Things appears to be delving more into the mind’s slow collapse with age. And I think that, at some points, it does a brilliant job at doing this.

The film deliberately contradicts itself at many occasions, almost as if it’s being told with someone suffering from dementia. For example, the main character’s name changes several times throughout and events recollected are constantly in flux. This idea is highlighted in the scenes set within the parent’s farmhouse, which are certainly the strongest parts of the film. The creepy atmosphere and nail-biting tension within these scenes are incredible. And the weird surreal imagery was sublime; I was genuinely invested, on the edge of my seat as I watched.

However, these scenes really only take up a small portion of the film. And they’re sandwiched between two long driving sequences which are really what ruined the film for me. They seem to go on for an entirety, and are just the characters musing on numerous subjects with a somewhat intellectual approach. It was like listening to a terrible podcast run by two uncharismatic art students who think they’re deep just because they listen to math rock and watch Rick and Morty. Around forty minutes of film are dedicated to this and it almost bored me to death.

Now, I’m not saying you can’t have long portions of your film which are simply just the characters talking. I think when the dialogue is able to draw you in, it can be pretty immersive. But this just doesn’t do that. Which is a shame as Kaufman is a writer who I believed could do this. But here it doesn’t come together; it feels like a load of separate contemplations forced together.

Although you may argue that may have been the intention, to me, it simply doesn’t work. It feels like Kaufman is trying too hard to flex how smart and intellectual he is. But it feels too self-indulgent. The film’s ending is a bit of a return to form though, with some more surreal imagery. It’s definitely an improvement from the endless slog of driving. But it’s sadly not as interesting or unnerving as the parts set in the farmhouse.

However, don’t misconstrue my tone. I’m Thinking Of Ending Things is by no means terrible. All of the cast pull off mesmerising performances (Jesse Plemons’ socially awkward Jake is a highlight). The cinematography is beautiful. And I think the bold choice to have the film in a claustrophobic 4:3 aspect ratio definitely pays off. I really like some of the conceptual elements too. Again, I really enjoy how the film contradicts itself, and the whole movie has a very David Lynch-esque dream-like quality. So, I don’t hate this film; it just didn’t give off such a strong positive response as Kaufman’s others have.


I really wanted to like I’m Thinking Of Ending Things. But for me, it’s simply the case that all the pieces didn’t come together as seamlessly as they could have done. Maybe they might come together for you. This is the type of film which is very much up to interpretation. So, your reading may be completely different from mine. Overall, then, I’d definitely suggest seeing this film, but be warned: this isn’t the type of film you kick back for a bit of light escapism. It’s challenging and may not be as rewarding as you may have hoped.


Target Audience: Ages 15+
Content: Strong Language & Sexual References
Recommendation?: Yes

Overall Rating: 5.5/10 – Above Average

Further Details

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