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  I'm Thinking of Ending Things Imagine That!
Year: 2020
Director: Charlie Kaufman
Stars: Jesse Plemons, Jessie Buckley, Toni Collette, David Thewlis, Colby Minifie, Jason Ralph, Abby Quinn, Gus Birney, Guy Boyd, Hadley Robinson, Ashlyn Alessi, Teddy Coluca, Anthony Robert Grasso, Dj Nino Carta, Dannielle Rose, Austin Ferris, Brooke Elardo
Genre: Horror, Comedy, Drama, WeirdoBuy from Amazon
Rating:  6 (from 1 vote)
Review: This young woman (Jessie Buckley) has recently got herself a boyfriend, Jake (Jesse Plemons), and while they get on fine, she is uncertain whether they are compatible, so she is thinking of ending things with him. But first, reluctant to get too heavy with him, she agrees to visit his parents out in the middle of nowhere as winter closes in; with Jake driving they begin a journey that will last about an hour with the snow beginning to fall ever more thickly. As she sits in the passenger seat, she ruminates over this and that, mostly how she does not want to be that committed to a relationship and the implications and repercussions of that. Did you say something?

Charlie Kaufman is always going to be hard work for a lot of people, and while his Netflix movie was to be applauded for bringing a "difficult" piece to a broad platform, you did wonder if the streaming service was opting for prestige over popularity. Certainly most viewers who came fresh to this adaptation of Iain Reid's novel came away baffled, assuming they made it to the end at all, consisting as this did largely of two car journeys filmed in more or less closeup on Plemons and Buckley for long stretches. When it was not doing that, it posed as a horror movie, but not very enthusiastically, preferring to bring the usual existentialist crisis from Kaufman in eccentric portrayals.

For the select few who this did not drive up the wall, they would find a contemplation of mortality, and whether anything we do matters in the great scheme of things, including what we are always told is the most important thing in life, which is love. You're nobody if you don't have a partner, goes that social rule, the pressure is always there, and if you manage to snag a life partner, good for you, you've won at this, but here we were invited to ponder that was not such a proud boast when you were basically watching the person you felt the most affection for grow old, get sick and die, assuming you do not do that first, before them, thus beating them to a meeting with your maker.

Except a maker may not exist; we witness the guiding hand of authorship from the director, but an actual heavenly deity appears to be absent, leaving a Dennis Potter style mood as the narrative turned meta early on and never recovered. In fact, what this most resembled was Alain Resnais' Last Year at Marienbad, which was becoming the touchstone for weirdo movies with an intellectual bent in the twenty-first century: that sensation of being trapped in time, at the whims of others who create a story for you that may not be accurate to your feelings in any way, throwing up aspects supposedly of yourself that you do not recognise but those others insist is part of you, until your mentality fragments and any petty arguing you are reduced to is so much pissing in the wind while your memories turn against you. Merry Christmas, everybody!

In many ways, Kaufman was looking like Holden Caulfield grew up, got a Hollywood contract and started making whiny movies about how life was unfair and full of phonies, as there was something petulant in the way he point blank turned down any succour for his audience, and more than that, any easy path through his fictions. Not that he did not have a point, as there was plenty valid about his whingeing, after all we all have our off days when nothing goes right and we wonder why we bother, but Kaufman's cinematic recreation of that emotion was suffocating, so when you saw that title your thoughts immediately went to a suicide tale rather than a lovers breaking up one. And yet, despite those reservations about the films he made and their pouty posturing that life is bad however you tried to put a positive spin on it, he did conjure up images and situations nobody else would ever do, maybe that's a good thing, but the forever shaking dog or the interruption of musical Oklahoma! into the movie did amuse, if only for their novelty, even when his terror of being unable to live in the moment made him irritable (about other movies, apparently). Music by Jay Wadley.
Reviewer: Graeme Clark

 

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