Sunday, 6 September 2020

Film Review: "I'm Thinking of Ending Things" (2020).

"I'm thinking of ending things. Once this thought arrives, it stays. It sticks, it lingers, it dominates. There's not much I can do about it, trust me. It doesn't go away. It's there whether I like it or not. It's there when I eat, when I go to bed. It's there when I sleep. It's there when I wake up. It's always there. Always." This is I'm Thinking of Ending Things. This psychological drama film adapted and directed by Charlie Kaufman, and based on the 2016 novel of the same name by Iain Reid. Despite second thoughts about their relationship, a young woman takes a road trip with her new boyfriend to his family farm. Trapped at the farm during a snowstorm with Jake's mother and father, the young woman begins to question the nature of everything she knew or understood about her boyfriend, herself, and the world.

Described as a psychological thriller and horror fiction, Reid's debut novel was first published in 2016. The novel was selected by National Public Radio as one of the best books of 2016, was a finalist in the 2016 Shirley Jackson Award, and appeared on the 2017 Ottawa Independent Writers Frank Hegyi Award for Emerging Authors longlist. In January 2018, it was announced that Netflix would produce an adaptation of Reid's novel with Kaufman as writer and director. By mid March 2019, Jesse Plemons, Jessie Buckley, Toni Collette and David Thewlis were cast. Originally, in December 2018, Brie Larson was originally cast before being replaced by Buckley. At the same time, principal photography commenced and wrapped in late April. Filming took place in Fishkill, New York.

The film stars Plemons, Buckley, Collette and Thewlis. The cast are perfectly cast in this film. Buckley's vulnerability is stunning, and she has channelled her internal skills into a tightly controlled performance that makes the absurd completely believable and terrifying.

A spectacular film that delves into a primitive feeling more authentically than any other film. A modern classic. The film is a whirlwind of emotions, and it is the kind of psychological horror/thriller that is just grounded enough, in reality, to inspire and incite, but dark enough to deserve its own special place in the genre's history. It's a surprising, clever horror/thriller twist, even as the relationship drama it dredges up doesn't feel at all like horror/thriller. At its core, the film could have been just another horror/thriller. Refracted through Kaufman's wonderfully weird prism, it's something truly memorable. The result is a cinematic vagueness that makes the film less aesthetic yet more persuasive. This is how nightmares really look: like reality, only less so. It's a very Kaufmanesque narrative experiment, technically ingenious and sophisticated. It also looks like some lost psychological horror/thriller idea by Shirley Jackson. The latest and darkest psychological horror/thriller adapted by Kaufman, America's most - we should probably say only - intellectually provocative filmmaker. The film entertains for the most part and gives us a set of marvellous performances from this outstanding cast, even if it doesn't quite reach the near-genius of Kaufman's other works.

Simon says I'm Thinking of Ending Things receives:

Also see my review for Anomalisa.

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