• Maxwell J.

I’m Thinking of Ending Things (2020) Explores the Existential Horror of Life’s Mundanity

Title: I’m Thinking of Ending Things

First Wide Release: September 4, 2020 (Digital/Streaming Platforms)

Director: Charlie Kaufman

Writer: Charlie Kaufman, Ian Reid

Runtime: 134 Minutes

Starring: Jesse Plemons, Jessie Buckley, Toni Collette

Where to Watch: Check out where to find it here


A young woman joins her new boyfriend on a trip to his family’s house for dinner. Doubting that their relationship will last, she debates how to move forward with initiating the conversation but also seems to be interrupted. Throughout the night, she finds herself in a confusing whirlwind of bizarre happenings and discovers more may be going on than she understands. Originally a novel by Ian Reid, I’m Thinking Ending Things is a circuitous piece of existential dread.

While certainly not formulaic, it’s pretty clear to see the path I’m Thinking of Ending Things is taking after the first twenty minutes or so. It would be remiss to omit that even if it is predictable, I’m Thinking of Ending Things is more about the journey than the destination. The dialogue propels the story offering a layered approach to deconstructing the two main characters and their lives. Sometimes it feels very “gotcha”-y but it does have a certain type of charm to it. I especially appreciate the repetition of the titular line that hammers down the denouement. I did, however, hate the ending. To me, it feels very pretentious without offering much substance.


The cast is full of great talent, and the main characters are suitably multifaceted. Jesse Plemons and Jessie Buckley give incredible performances that evoke pity and curiosity. Toni Collette also delivers a delightfully unhinged and layered performance, even if she only appears for short segments of the film. I found myself yearning to know more about the Young Woman as she is the film’s most interesting character, in my opinion. When everything is explained I understand why that does not happen, but it is still disappointing.


Beautifully artistically rendered, I’m Thinking of Ending Things is chock full of interesting visuals. The cinematography is sharp and focused on the mundanity of everything. The snow, farmhouse, the road, all feel like they go on for hours which further potentiates the overall message of the film. Slowly throughout the course of the film, it becomes more lurid and fantasy-like. By the end, the sequences become almost dreamlike and theatrical. Effective use of staging and lighting aid in this dizzy nightmare of confusion. Both compelling and on-message, the artistic choices in I’m Thinking of Ending Things elevates its message.

It is clear that director Charlie Kaufman is an experienced and adept professional who knows how to create a well-made film, even if it may not be to one’s preference. The tone is consistently bleak, reflective, and thoughtful. The pacing may be irritating, but it hits the nose on the chaos and humdrum realities of life in an exceptional way. Even though I am not a fan of the ending, everything does come together in a meaningful, albeit not satisfying, way. I truly wish that Kaufman didn’t stray from the original ending from the novel [I looked it up afterward and felt cheated]. It would make as I’m Thinking of Ending Things.


It is clear that director Charlie Kaufman is an experienced and adept professional who knows how to create a well-made film, even if it may not be to one’s preference. The tone is consistently bleak, reflective, and thoughtful. The pacing may be irritating, but it hits the nose on the chaos and humdrum realities of life in an exceptional way. Even though I am not a fan of the ending, everything does come together in a meaningful, albeit not satisfying, way. I truly wish that Kaufman didn’t stray from the original ending from the novel [I looked it up afterward and felt cheated]. It would make I’m Thinking of Ending Things much more powerful and poignant.

I cannot help but praise I’m Thinking of Ending Things for forcing me to think about the film long after I watched it. A deep meditation on the sad reality of aging, mortality, and purpose, I’m Thinking of Ending Things is a particularly brutal film once all the pieces are put together. The idea of never reaching self-actualization is a paralyzing fear, one that many think about when they are worried life isn’t going in the direction they wanted. The repetition, confusion, and stretching of time amplify this message. The final message I gathered from the film: How many lives do we pretend to live while we waste away in our own?


I’m still trying to process how I feel about I’m Thinking of Ending Things. It is well-made, well-acted, and meticulous in its execution. It also has major pacing issues and comes off more as an opportunity to show off more than anything. While the substance is there, it is much more of a stylistic movie. I want to like it more than I did. I would recommend I’m Thinking of Ending Things to anyone who enjoys well-made films even if it comes at the expense of emotional investment or entertainment value. Otherwise, you may find yourself doing more than just thinking of ending things and switching to another movie.


Overall Score? 6/10

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