← Back to Reviews

I'm Thinking of Ending Things

I'm Thinking of Ending Things (Kaufman, 2020)

It's been some time since I've been compelled to jot some thoughts down after watching a film, but here I am. I'll start off by saying my limited experience with Kaufman has been a mixed bag. LOVE Being John Malkovich (written by), likeEternal Sunshine (written by), and HATE Synecdoche, New York. This falls somewhere in the middle.

I'd break this experience up into three pieces
1. The Car Scenes
2. The Farmhouse
3. The School

Similarly to how the woman gets annoyed with Jake for being overly pretentious, I definitely felt this through much of the car scene dialogues. How much of this was intentional and how much was Kaufman to flex, I don't know. Probably comes down to the adaptation and I have not read the original book. There's a few clever moments in here however, perhaps if you've seen A Woman Under The Influence and Oklahoma five times, you'd pick up more than me who hasn't seen those in near a decade- but for me man at 15-20 mins a piece these car scenes could just feel overly elongated. Despite speaking only like two cliche overly pretentious grad students could, somehow always to keep me engaged, and a bit tense however, especially in the second series where Jake keeps asking if we're going back to the farmhouse. The feel created in these moments was actually surprisingly well done, in this stranded world- similar to how the woman describes her painting I guess. Although she seems perfectly calm, there's an unnerving presence.

The Farmhouse is the absolutely brilliant part of the film, my God was this unsettling, surreal, and extremely uncomfortable. Cloest thing to Eraserhead I've ever seen, and that's one of my top ten films so this is huge praise for me. In this 30-40 minute scene Kaufman takes on surrealism as well as Bunuel, Lynch, or Svanmajer. It's also on level of scariness as some modern greats of Get out and Us. I believe this is the only part of the movie where I picked up some of the symbolism, and there's some interesting statements on aging through out. I can't say I gathered a hollistic picture of what's being said- if there really is anything- but I was STRESSED through this whole interaction. Which is hard to do with 0 character build (the woman doesn't even have a name) and very little emotional response from our protagonist- outside of confusion. Never fear. As I said this is a modern Eraserhead, would've made an amazing stand alone short film

And then came the school scene, where our backgorund janitor is finally tied in! And this is where the film completely lost me, my God. All the drama, all the intensity, all the chilliness of it just went away the minute they started dancing and there forward. I no longer care enough to dissect any meaning , I'm no longer engaged, I no longer feel anything watching this. I'm sure for other audience this is the mind blowing moment where we can connect all the odd dots, for me this is the moment Kaufman fails in carrying the energy. And I can't really expect him too. This final series feel ADHD, over done, and frankly empty to me.

It's hard for me to tie this altogether, since as a viewer I did fail too- and as a movie it failed to keep me. But there's still something special about this Netflix original. Oddly it would've felt more complete to me if it ended about 35 mins early, when she confronts the janitor. But hey I'm not as smart as Kaufman or the quantum physicist and wanna be diligent scholar who are our protagonists (are they)? But the farmhouse stretch is enough for me to reccomend this unique horror experience