Review: Netflix’s I’m Thinking of Ending Things is Charlie Kaufman at his most haunting and unshakable

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Netflix’s I’m Thinking of Ending Things is Charlie Kaufman at his most haunting and unshakable

involves its final 20 minutes, when Kaufman takes every idea that he has been exploring up until that point – the reliability of memory, the agenda of storytellers, the tenuous nature of relationships, the overwhelming incongruity of life – and tosses them into a mesmerizing and maddening pit of fantasy and delusion.

And then ... well, it is unfair to say much more until you have the chance to experience the work yourself. It is beautiful, delirious, frustrating and so wedded to that film-critic notion of the unimpeachable “Kaufman-esque” sensibility that there is little point in arguing with its power, with its immeasurable impact. It works, even when it’s not supposed to.

After just six weeks of dating, Jake and his nameless girlfriend head out to the country to visit Jake’s parents. It is snowing, the farmland is desolate, and Jake’s girlfriend is thinking of, well, ending things. We know this because she serves as the film’s narrator, her inner thoughts walking the film through all manner of doubts, insecurities, apprehensions and curious forgetfulness. Have we been dating six weeks or seven, she wonders.

It helps, although it is little surprise, that Kaufman embraces the artifice of the film itself. For the first stretch of the movie, Kaufman and cinematographer Lukasz Zal – shooting in the boxy 1.37:1 ratio – rarely break from capturing Jake and his girlfriend inside the stifling confines of their car.

 

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