I’m Thinking of Ending Things (Movie Review)

Last Updated on July 30, 2021

PLOT: A young woman (Jessie Buckley) and her boyfriend of six weeks (Jesse Plemons) drive during a major snowstorm to visit his parents (Toni Collette & David Thewlis) on a remote farm.

REVIEW: I/M THINKING OF ENDING THINGS, like most of writer-director Charlie Kaufman’s work, is something you need to surrender to. A tough nut to crack, it rewards patient viewers with a bittersweet ending that (more or less) clarifies all that came before, and seems reverse-engineered for repeat viewings. It’s not for everyone – but those who it’s for will likely really love it. I’m in the love it category.

Jesse Plemons Jessie Buckley I'm thinking of ending things

Based on the novel by Iain Reid, in some ways this is kinda/sorta a relationship drama tinged with a touch of genre, although it never quite goes in as straightforward a direction as that. Much of it consists of long dialogue scenes between Jessie Buckley’s character (whose name and profession changes throughout) and her boyfriend, Jake, with whom she’s “thinking of ending things”. They discuss everything from under-the-sun, from science to poetry to even Pauline Kael’s take on John Cassavetes’ A WOMAN UNDER THE INFLUENCE. Naturalistic? No – but it’s not supposed to be. Again – have faith in Kaufman’s endgame.

Jessie and Jesse are ideal in the two leads. Never has Plemons seemed more like the heir apparent to Philip Seymour Hoffman than he does here, although in many ways this is Buckley’s show. Having recently emerged thanks to a breakout performance in the underrated WILD ROSE, she’s winning and likable as the young woman who’s resigned herself to ending this initially promising relationship. Buckley has a presence that’s utterly unique compared to other actresses of her generation and seems poised to become the next A plus movie star, with a whole slew of awards likely in her future. I actually wouldn’t be a bit surprised to see her get a nomination for this one.

I'm thinking of ending things

Kaufman, working with DP Lukasz Zal keeps the film visually interesting, despite more than half of it being set in a car. Shooting in the tight 1:33:1 academy ratio that’s in vogue now, the window boxing is effective in that it mirrors the claustrophobia of Buckley’s character. Like her, we’re just kind of along for the ride.

The big set-piece is the visit with Plemons’ parents, played by Toni Collette and David Thewlis, in roles that are alternately funny, menacing, and bittersweet, as their ages quickly change from scene-to-scene in a macabre, surreal family visit. No one plays unhinged quite like Collette, while Thewlis seems to be having a ball as Plemons’s somewhat dodgy dad, although to give more away would ruin the surprises Kaufman has in store for us.

Again, reviewing a film like I’M THINKING OF ENDING THINGS is tricky, as a lot of it relies on going in with an open mind and no preconceived notions. Suffice to say, it’s utterly unique, with it being probably the only film I can think of that climaxes in a big musical number that seems perfectly apropos considering the kind of film we’ve been watching. It’s not for everyone but for some folks this is exactly the kind of film they want Netflix taking chances on. Love it or hate it, you’re not likely to see anything like it anytime soon.


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Source: JoBlo.com

About the Author

Chris Bumbray began his career with JoBlo as the resident film critic (and James Bond expert) way back in 2007, and he has stuck around ever since, being named editor-in-chief in 2021. A voting member of the CCA and a Rotten Tomatoes-approved critic, you can also catch Chris discussing pop culture regularly on CTV News Channel.