If there is one thing that makes Charlie Kaufman such an interesting writer, it is his exploration of the human psyche and what makes the mind tick. Whether it be the fulfillment of desire/longing to live another life (Being John Malkovich), what we decide to do with our memories both good and bad (Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind), the dedication of achieving an ambition (Synechdoche, New York, Kaufman’s directorial feature), or finding meaning in a life filled with monotony (Anomalisa, which Kaufman also directed). The films which Kaufman has written for may be quirky, existentialist fantasies, yet somehow, they feel as real as can be. The characters Kaufman creates are just ordinary people, though it takes a certain fantastical situation to help dig in to the recesses of their minds as to make them relatable, whether they achieve their goals or not.
The same could be said for Kaufman’s newest feature I’m Thinking of Ending Things, based on Iain Reid’s debut novel, which hit Netflix on September 4th. Like Kaufman’s earlier works, I’m Thinking of Ending Things is yet another mind-bender about the human psyche that deals with existentialism, identity, and how we perceive relationships told through the inner monologues of a young woman (Jessie Buckley) as she goes off to meet her boyfriend Jake’s (Jesse Plemons) parents (Toni Collette and David Thewlis) during a snowstorm. As expected from a Charlie Kaufman film, things take a turn for the psychologically bizarre.
How else can I describe I’m Thinking of Ending Things without spoiling anything? It is a film that requires you to accept the eerie bizarre reality of its protagonist’s mental state, where one event twists into a completely different outcome in the strangest of ways, until we find ourselves pulled into its deteriorating state of psychosis. I cannot guarantee that I’m Thinking of Ending Things will go down easy with the average viewer, especially with scenes that feel as if they could halt the movie in its tracks, but it will give fans of Charlie Kaufman the satisfaction of questioning everything they have seen.