*spoiler alert! Don’t read this post if you haven’t watched the movie yet*
“I’m Thinking of Ending Things” is a new Netflix Original film directed by Charlie Kaufman. Kaufman is also the screenwriter of this film adaptation of the book with the same title. Like Kaufman’s acclaimed “The Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind”, this new Kaufman film is an exploration of the human mind and the complexities of human relationships.
The film starts pretty simple. This girl initially named “Lucy” and Jake are off to a trip to see Jake’s parents. They chat in the car and what initially seems to be normal gets weirder and weirder. There’s just like an atmosphere of anxiety lurking in every frame of the movie. A few minutes in, I could already tell that’s something was off. In the car, it seemed like Jake responds to Lucy’s voiceovers/thoughts. In that moment, I already knew that everything that is happening is all occurring only in the mind of one of the characters. At first, I was unsure whom exactly but seeing bits and pieces of the life of a janitor, I figured out that it’s his mind. Other indications that the events in the film are not real are the calls to Lucy by Lucy herself, Lucy’s name changes throughout the film and the photograph of Lucy/Jake.
Anyways, the conversations at dinner, at Jake’s childhood bedroom and Lucy finding the paintings in the basement aims to give us a glimpse on what Jake/Janitor’s life was like. His mother who seems delightful also seems very much overbearing while his father seems hard to impress. He clearly does not get “art” and we find out that Jake did want to be painter.
In the end, we see the janitor enter his car and seems to be having a stroke to me. He takes off his clothes and he sees a ghost pig. He follows the ghost pig into an auditorium where he receives an award for his accomplishment and then he performs a number from the musical “Oklahoma”. After the performance, the whole audience claps.
Ultimately, the film is about the loneliness of a man. The words “I’m thinking of ending things” that Lucy has repeated throughout the film may be a reflection of Jake’s thoughts. Lucy is his idealized woman that’s why her name and job changes throughout the film, because she really had no identity. What Lucy witnessed in the house shows us what Jake’s life was like. We saw and heard his parents arguing so that may have affected Jake’s childhood. We also saw that his paintings are stuck in the basement which tells us that his passion was never really pursued. We also find out that his father develops dementia and his mother became extremely ill so Jake had to take care of them. We get the sense that Jake wasn’t really able to live his life and wasn’t able to meet a woman he could care about. So, he invents a Lucy in his head. This makes the ending bittersweet. The real Jake died in that car. He died cold and alone. But in his imaginations, he was finally given recognition for the things he has done and has finally done something he was passionate about.
The beauty of the film was not in the ultimate reveal. It was pretty obvious. The beauty of the film was in the journey- in the bits and pieces given to us. The film gave us plenty to think about including hopelessness.
Overall, “I’m Thinking of Ending Things” is a bizarre yet wonderful film that will make you contemplate your own life and mortality.