I’m Thinking of Ending Things: Artistic or Aimless? (Review)

6 Shares

There’s a very specific, niche feel to I’m Thinking of Ending Things. A certain subset of people will watch this film and absolutely lose their minds over how good it is.

But the majority of the population will walk away from this one going what the hell did I just watch?

Jessie Buckley as Young Woman, Jesse Plemons as Jake in Netflix's I'm Thinking of Ending Things
Mary Cybulski/NETFLIX © 2020

I’m Thinking of Ending Things review

Watching I’m Thinking of Ending Things feels a lot like a friend convincing you to go see an experimental play. They know the guy behind it, they tell you, and he’s brilliant, if a bit unusual. (Netflix says, it’s Charlie Kaufman! You know, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind?)

Then the play begins and immediately you recognize The Vibe. It’s minimalist, no fancy set pieces, only two actors. There’s a running internal-monologue-made-external for the audience, which is equal parts existential and intellectual. (The Young Woman and Jake settle in for a drive to his parents’ place. It’s just the two of them and the snow swirling around the car outside. He desperately tries to make small talk. She recites poetry and thinks of ending their relationship.) You’re not sure you understand everything that’s being said (is this too smart for you?), but you do understand the feeling behind it. Existential dread is universal.

Jake's parents in I'm Thinking of Ending Things
Mary Cybulski/NETFLIX © 2020

The scene goes on much longer than expected before things change. (They’re driving and talking. Talking and driving.) Then a couple new characters take the stage. They’re bizarre in a different way, but somehow their presence begins to help you figure out the narrative. (They settle down with Jake’s parents for dinner. Even as the parents drift up and down their personal timelines, aging older and younger at the drop of a hat, even as everything seems strange and unsettling… Even then, you start to think maybe you can work out a bit of what’s going on here.)

Just when you think you’re starting to understand what’s going on, things change. The play is now…a musical? And the answers you thought the story was building to aren’t even considerations anymore. (Dopplegangers of Jake and the Young Woman replace the actors for an extended dance scene. An animated pig appears to lead a character to his death (?). Jake returns to perform a song from the musical Oklahoma!)

I'm Thinking of Ending Things
Mary Cybulski/NETFLIX © 2020

And then it’s over. (What just happened?)

The Bottom Line

I’m Thinking of Ending Things is…bizarre. Experimental. Pushing the boundaries of what a movie can and should be. For some people, it will go down as high art. But for the rest of us? It’s just a strange, pointless dream.

I’m Thinking of Ending Things hits Netflix on September 4. Meanwhile, check back to That Hashtag Show for more reviews and Netflix previews.

Leave a Reply