22nd September 2020

I’m Thinking Of Ending Things Is A Puzzle

I’m Thinking  Of Ending Things(Netflix)

Starring  Jesse Plemons,Jessie Buckley,Toni Collette,David Thewlis

Directed  by Charlie  Kaufman

Rating: ** ½

An old man in the early stages of Alzeihmer’s, says  it’s  better  to  lost your  memory completely  than  to know  you are losing it .

I’m Thinking Of Ending Things,a film as strange as its title,plays numbing mindgames with audiences’ perceptions from the very first frame to  the last  until we  don’t know why things are what they are, or  who  is doing whom, and why  he is where she is,or she is where he  is.Or whatever.

To be honest I  found the whole rigmarole  a bit of an intellectual  sham.The kind of cinema that ‘serious’ students  make in  film school  to impress their  professors. An illusion of real life with heavy literary references  thrown in,  all amounting  to a work that tries to seduce  us by being a  sum-total of everything that we don’t know   about  the characters rather  than what we do know.

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By the end  of  the  film I was  not sure if  the plot in trying to uber-hot , ends up muddled and distraught , or what. I wasn’t even sure if the  protagonist  Lucy(who changes  her name  several times in the  film)  exists . Or is she just a figment of  someone else’s imagination? Not  ours. Or maybe it’s just us thinking of ending the  film.

 The  dinner with  Lucy’s frumpy fiancé Jake(Jesse Plemons)’s  eccentric parents(Toni Collette , David Thewlis) is so bizarre and  out-of-tune, it defies any coherent reflection.  Like   chapters in  a psycho-wacky novel  the parents keep aging and de-aging throughout the evening.Veterans Collette and Thewlis play the parents with an unendurable  level  of  hysteria. They  are like two demented teenagers   suddenly  made to act much wiser than their years.

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Throughout the dinner  the characters  jump topics that range  from chocolate cakes to ear aches.

 The  only sane performance in this  unhinged  , partially interesting , drama comes from the lead Jesse Buckley, chosen  because she looks  sensible  and  remains grounded while else around her topples over into a hallucinogenic haze  of inherent time-flips.

 While much of the  narrative arc is amorphous what comes  across  clearly is the film’s  modest budget. Most  of the  film is shot in a car driving across  a snowstorm, and a cosy cottage  housing  Jake’s parents,  the end-game  is  set  in  a highschool where  unknown  actors break into a rendering of the musical Oklohama.

 There are lengthy references to poet William Wordworth, critic Pauline  Kael and the film The Wonder  Under the  Influence. The  two protagonists  , ill-matched and  largely  unsure of  their  conversation with one  another, are as  confused as they are confusing. Do they really exist? Do WE  exist?  If  we  do, why should we waste time trying to  figure  out why this film was ever made?

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