I’m Thinking of Ending Things Review The Buff and The Blazer
Charlie Kaufman’s I’m Thinking of Ending Things is a masterclass of the mind. Like his previous works, Kaufman visually explores the intricacies of the human Psyche. This latest film beautifully showcases his intricate style. Although the human mind is difficult to pin down, several elements help achieve it. First off, the films beautiful imagery and motifs help clue the audience in on the plot. Finally, great performances drive home the melancholy atmosphere of the subject matter.
I’m Thinking of Ending Things begins with a beautiful dream-like shot. The camera slowly zooms in on the female lead of the film (Jessie Buckley). Snow flurries fall from the sky as she is slightly more in focus than the foreground. That single shot sets the tone for the entire film. You never honestly know whether you are experiencing reality, dream, or psychosis. The film also features many intimate shots in tight quarters. Whether it’s the cabin of a car, a cramped dining room, or the film’s 4:3 aspect ratio, things feel claustrophobic.
Visual motifs also help tie the story together. There are symbols, objects, and people throughout the film, that connect different moments. One example deals with a familiar logo. Jake’s (Jesse Plemons) girlfriend enters the basement of his family home and opens up a washer. The washer is full of clothing with RHS logos. Earlier in the film, that same logo appeared on another character’s clothes. The visual motif helps the audience connect those associations.
Pigs are another visual motif of the film. The first image of a pig appears on a billboard. The billboard is an ad for a dairy called Tulsey Town, seen on the drive to Jake’s home. Once they reach the farm, Jake tells a story about some pigs on the farm eaten alive by maggots. The end of the film features an animated pig that accompanies one of the main characters. While seemingly random, the pig motif is a metaphor for Jake. There are lots of other similar motif’s dropped throughout the rest of the film.
The final element that helps ground the complex narrative is the film’s actors. While there is plenty of dialogue in the film, emotion is central to the story. There is a particularly melancholy tone in I’m Thinking of Ending Things. Every look and stare has a weight to it. It’s as if all of the events on screen are fatiguing and burdensome. The actors convey that tone perfectly. Ironically, Jessie Buckley’s character seems the most grounded. Her emotional state connects the audience with the story as she appears confused, frustrated, and horrified as events unfold. Her performance is the window for which the entire story unfolds.
The actors and their performances keep you engaged for what is sometimes a very confusing narrative to follow. It is also worth noting that the dialogue in the film is complicated and sometimes dense. The actors pull it off with a naturalness that is difficult to achieve.
Ultimately, I’m Thinking of Ending Things is a film that will challenge your mind in the best ways possible.
I’m Thinking of Ending Things is available on Netflix
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