REVIEW: ‘Thinking of Ending Things’ is solid thought-provoking cinema

I’m thinking this is a pretty damn good movie, but understand not everyone will feel that way.

“I’m Thinking of Ending Things” largely focuses on two characters, Jake (Jesse Plemons) and his girlfriend, played by Jessie Buckley. The couple are on their way to meet Jake’s parents for the first time time, but are unfortunately having to drive through a snowstorm to get there.

As they make their way over the snowy highway, the audience gets to learn more about how Jake’s girlfriend is considering the future of their relationship. Meanwhile, the audience is also introduced concurrently with a janitor character, who has a relation to the main characters that’s slowly revealed over the course of the film.

“Ending Things” is a real thinker of a movie. As the film progresses, one learns that the question they should be asking is not what the movie is about, but who the movie is about. As that concept becomes more clear, the film just becomes more and more fascinating to watch.

As a whole, “I’m Thinking of Ending Things” is really a deep exploration of a person’s psyche and life experiences. The film does this exploration with a story that seems, at first, fairly standard on the surface.

The story unfolds, though in a way that brings up topics such as the awkwardness of meeting a significant other’s parents, the uneasiness of a fledgling romance and expectations of what a relationship should be in the future. In doing so, the movie becomes more engaging, and even suspenseful.

EndingThingsBlog
Courtesy Netflix and Likely Story Productions.

The suspense only builds as the dialogue and visuals take viewers into a more mind-bending experience. When the picture crosses the halfway point, it becomes noticeable what’s really going on, and ultimately the movie gets even more intriguing and thought-provoking from there.

As a point of caution, it should be noted that “Ending Things” isn’t the most accessible movie, with the second act being somewhat challenging. However, sticking with the film ultimately leads to a unique, interesting pay-off.

While it’s not necessarily a true negative, one thing noticeable about “I’m Thinking of Ending Things” is its runtime. The film clocks in at two hours and 14 minutes, and one could argue it could be trimmed down just to the two hour mark.

Something not as up for debate, though, are the performances. There are four major pieces of acting work here, as Plemons and Buckley are joined on screen by Toni Collette and David Thewlis, who portray Jake’s parents.

The former are convincing as a couple who are still getting to know each other as their relationship is still new. Colette and Thewlis are fantastic, meanwhile, as the parents, especially as their characters show several sides of themselves throughout the movie.

Director Charlie Kaufman, who also adapted the script from a book by Iain Reid, deserves a lot of credit for bringing everything together so well, too. He brings out a spell-binding atmosphere throughout the film, where a viewer constantly feels that something isn’t quite right. Through Kaufman’s craftsmanship, a viewer is compelled to keep watching to continue pulling at the string.

“I’m Thinking of Ending Things” isn’t the easiest film to get into. It feels subdued, it has a melancholic atmosphere and has a lot of metaphorical aspects. As a whole, though, it’s a fascinating, artistically pleasing cinematic experience. 4.5 out of 5. 

Author: Matthew Liedke

I'm a reporter for the Bemidji Pioneer in Minnesota, and I also have a passion for the art of film. This passion led me to start writing about film in 2008. From 2008-2016 I wrote pieces at my own website, After the Movie Reviews. Then, from 2016-May 2018, my write-ups were featured on AreaVoices, a blog network run by Forum Communications Company. Today, I write film reviews and other pieces here on Word Press. More about me: I'm a 2009 graduate of Rainy River College and a 2012 graduate of Minnesota State University in Moorhead. At MSU, I studied journalism and film. Outside of movies, I enjoy sports, video games, anime and craft beers.

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