The latest venture of the prolific screenwriter and filmmaker Charlie Kaufman is the 2020 chaotic and uncanny drama, “I’m Thinking of Ending Things.” If you are aware of the kind of story Kaufman writes, then I am sure you would know what to expect from this mind-bending thriller. “I’m Thinking of Ending Things” possesses a sort of similar subject orientation or thematic vein to his 2008 film called “Synecdoche New York.”
“I’m Thinking of Ending Things” is based on a novel by Lain Reid, of the same name. Much of the plot and intricate details have been personified and changed by the filmmaker in accordance with his creative sensibilities.
The story of “I’m Thinking of Ending Things” is pretty simple and linear yet very complicated and divergent in nature. Charlie Kaufman has a habit of not laying on the surface but exploring the depths.
A young girl, played by Jessie Buckley goes on a trip with his boyfriend, played by Jesse Plemmons, to meet his parents. The parents live in a farm situated in a snowy and abandoned landscape. The parents are not very socially amiable, and a bit cuckoo it seems. As the evening progresses things get obscure and blurry such that it becomes difficult to differentiate dream from reality. David Thewlis and Toni Collete have done an extraordinary job as the parents of Jesse Plemmons. Their performance conveyed the obscurity and a sense of illusion that the screenplay demanded.
“I’m Thinking of Ending Things” is a critique on the quest of a human being to find one’s own identity. It touches on various aspects of life and attempts to analyze it. One of the key themes is the usage of dreamlike imagery and generating a surreal jigsaw puzzle of ideas. Kaufman relies heavily on the idea generated on a subconscious level. After a point of time in the film, you just cannot determine what’s real and what’s not. That is why a comparison to the filmography of David Keith Lynch becomes inevitable.
Kaufman knows the art of using the landscape to denote or amplify human emotions. The feeling of melancholy and monotony in the lives of the characters is sort of amplified by the snowy landscape and it also adds a tinge of uncertainty in the demographics of their relationship.
Kaufman makes a comment on the inability of human beings to stay in the present unlike animals. He feels that every human being is already living his life at a subconscious level because seldom are we fully aware of our physical and mental self. The character of Jessie Buckley does not have a fixed name or profession in the film and it keeps changing every time someone asks her about it. The filmmaker deliberately did that to underline the insignificance of the name or profession or the different worldly actions of the human beings. He considers those aspects to be fake or hypocritical in nature. He feels that only the “thought” which crosses our minds is pure in nature.
Kaufman wants to question the objectivity of reality and our sense of time. He says that time exists in our minds.
“Everything is Tinged. There is no Objective Reality. There is No Color to the Universe”
A special mention has to be made to a scene where the performers emote through a choreographed dance sequence. Its not everyday that we get to witness such a creative line of thought, and seeing their delicate and aesthetic body movements was a performer’s delight.
No doubt about it that “I’m Thinking of Ending Things” is a work of sheer brilliance like many of his earlier films. But it is also necessary to mention that not everyone would be able to digest the complexities of the plot and they might get piqued by the surrealistic writing of Charlie Kaufman. For those who don’t mind finding their way through a labyrinth, I suggest that you all take out time to watch this stupefying and astounding work of Charlie Kaufman.
“I’m Thinking of Ending Things” is Streaming on Netflix since 4th September 2020.
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