'I'm Thinking Of Ending Things' Review: Jessie Buckley Stars In Charlie Kaufman's Fever Dream
I’m Thinking Of Ending Things has perhaps been the trickiest film to date for me to rate properly. Something that should probably be mentioned before diving deeper into it is that psychological drama as a genre isn’t typically the most appealing for my taste. I very much prefer thriller and horror when tackling psychological storytelling. The movie’s starting point is basically that a young woman and her boyfriend drive up to meet his parents, all while the woman (see title) is thinking of ending things. There’s really no point trying to explain the plot further since you either take that as in suicidal thoughts, possible break up or maybe even how you view the film’s own ending. I found ‘Thinking” ticking all the boxes I want from the genre and being very stylish on the side; overall it’s one of the year’s best even if it’s not as enjoyable for me personally as other types of films.
Best thing that any art form can do is to pull me into the world that’s been created and ”Thinking” did it immediately from the first line and shot. The characters felt real, their dialogue was clever and interesting and the car in the snowy scenery was a great place to start with. All of the acting present is a true tour de force, Jessie Buckley and Jesse Plemons as the couple (aka Young Woman and Jake) as well as Jake’s parents played by Toni Collette and David Thewlis deliver performances worthy of awards across the board. There are theatrical monologues and long conversations, disorientation and real emotions, time modulation and character switching which are all done exceptionally. All of it is possible because despite what you might expect after seeing the trailer, location and setting changes do happen even beyond arriving at the farm house and they happen at the right times.
On the more technical side of things, howling sound design and following editing of it is so precise and suffocating that both the car and house create the wanted anxiety which is being performed by the actors. That mixed with script’s boldness to demand viewer’s full attention to every word spoken drives the film to its destination. Director and writer Charlie Kaufman’s script thinks that you’re smart, it tests your memory and in the end surprises you by breaking down the walls. To me, the originality of it works but it’s one of those cases where you have to be willing to just go with it, rather than try to keep connecting the dots and try to figure out the endgame. You won’t figure it out. There’s no shortage of highly pretentious references to others’ works that take away from the character work on the screen sometimes but it’s not enough to hurt the story, especially when the film’s conclusion softens their blows.
Smileys: Performance by a cast, sound mixing, originality, screenplay, pacing
Frowneys: Minor flaws with dialogue
Often a funny quip here but just some random thoughts this time. As said, the genre overall is one of my least favourites but this movie just has the right elements for one. It’s anxiety inducing, actually pretty funny, cleverly written, beautifully shot and even throws in a few surprises. Some 4.5 or 4.0 rated films I did enjoy slightly more but ”Thinking” is as good as I want a psychological drama to be. I’m thinking of ending the review now.