Netflix’s newest entry, I’m Thinking of Ending Things, is as frustrating as it is lifeless. Charlie Kaufman made a film that is too self-indulgent to take itself seriously enough for anybody to want to finish. I’m thinking of ending things? More like I’m thinking of ending it before the first act is over. The whole film is heavy in dialogue that meanders and is borderline a snoozefest. It doesn’t help that the action on screen is mundane enough to blank out any information that may have been important to the film or its message. It’s shot in a 4:3 ratio (for whatever reason) and is as static as a flatlined hospital monitor. Does the film offer some surreal sequences? For sure. Do the surreal sequences add to the story or the characters? Absolutely not, at least from what I got from it. It’s just another way for Kaufman to pat himself on the back for making something “poetic” and “artful”.
A vast majority of the 2hr 15 minutes run time is at least 20 minutes of conversation in a car that adds nothing to the viewing experience. It would be one thing if any of the characters had something interesting to say, but both drown themselves in endless complaining. I’m Thinking of Ending Things never picks up its tension and the slow-burn effect is more dreadful, and unnecessary than the dialogue exchanges themselves. The film is being marketed as a psychological thriller and apparently adding surrealistic scenes that add no tension qualify the film to be as such.
There are no risks in this movie. There are no consequences. Everything that happens is derived from Kaufman’s want and need to force viewers into thinking there’s any substance in the thin layer of the story it presents. You can dig deep in your subconscious to put some sort of meaning to this film, but the meaning is on the surface and it only reads a waste of time to try and figure out.
The talent is also thrown away on a story that tries too hard to have a reason to exist. Kudos to the marketing for involving actors that seem like they’re going to have more than 15 minutes of screen time, unfortunately, those 15 minutes could have easily been cut out and perhaps the film would have more of a reason to be its thing.
I know this is based on a novel. I will be the first and most upfront about not having read the novel or seeing Kaufman’s other work. Perhaps if you are a fan of the novel, you will enjoy this. Perhaps if you are a fan of Kaufman, you will enjoy this. Unfortunately, I found I’m Thinking of Ending Things a sluggish, self-indulgent, piece of work that has very little to offer for me to care in the slightest about the themes, the characters, and the story. It needs more footing and motivation, along with at least 20 minutes cut for me to consider it an okay film at the very least.
‘I’m Thinking of Ending Things’ Gets 2/5 Stars