I’m Thinking of Ending Things review: Jessie Buckley in ‘weirdest film of the year’

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This one will likely turn out to be the weirdest film of the year.

Being John Malkovich writer Charlie Kaufman returns with this adaptation of Iain Reed’s acclaimed novel of the same name, I’m Thinking of Ending Things.

The film follows a young woman (Jessie Buckley) as she goes on a road trip with her boyfriend Jake (Jesse Plemons) to visit his parents (Toni Collette and David Thewlis), despite having some serious doubts about their relationship.

Arriving at the family’s remote farm, the young woman soon becomes increasingly uncertain of where she is, who she is with and who she herself is as reality begins to grow increasingly incoherent and disturbing.

Jessie Buckley stars as an uncertain young woman in I'm Thinking of Ending Things
(Image: Mary Cybulski/NETFLIX)

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Charlie Kaufman has made a career of surreal and thoughtful cinematic odysseys, but I’m Thinking of Ending Things takes the cake for a nightmarish and introspective journey.

Buckley is immensely watchable and engaging even in her quietest moments as the film’s heroine, as we see and hear her debate her future, her past, present and very existence. She offers comedy and pathos in spades, particularly drawing amusement in her narration that aches with disatisfaction.

Meanwhile, Plemons is equally magnetic as the agreeable Jake who slowly shows his darker edges in a manner not dissimilar to a performance from the late great Philip Seymour Hoffman.

A couple go on a road trip to farm house
(Image: Mary Cybulski/NETFLIX)

Jesse Plemons stars as Jake opposite Buckley in the film
(Image: Mary Cybulski/NETFLIX)

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The pair are matched well by the supporting performances from Collette and Thewlis who offer eccentricity, severity and tragedy in equal spades.

The seamless editing of events, even as they grow increasingly unpredictable and incoherent, is powerfully rendered to the point where you’ll be questioning your perception of reality yourself.

David Thewlis and Toni Collette as Jake's parents
(Image: Mary Cybulski/NETFLIX)

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However, you won’t be questioning how some lengthy discussions fall into slightly knowing and over-indulgent intellectual debates that clearly steer to Kaufman’s interests, while perhaps leaving many audience members feeling outside of the action.

That said, as the film takes its left turn after the first act, the chaotic unpredictable meets a sense of overwhelming dread in manners akin to Darren Aronofsky’s mother! and Ari Aster’s Hereditary.

Is the young woman's world all as it seems?
(Image: Mary Cybulski/NETFLIX)

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As the action spirals into a bizarre, abstract and tense finale – one more so than its source material – I’m Thinking of Ending Things will likely leave you confounded and haunted or even slightly infuriated – either way, you’re not forgetting this dark adventure into the human psyche.

Verdict

I’m Thinking of Ending Things is the weirdest film of the year so far and will stay with you for a long time afterwards – even if you’re not entirely cast under its spell. Jessie Buckley and Jesse Plemons are excellent as the couple unravelling at its centre.

I’m Thinking of Ending Things is released on Netflix on September 4, 2020.

What did you think of I’m Thinking of Ending Things? Let us know in the comments below.

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