The central theme of the script, which was adapted from Iain Reid's 2016 novel by the same name, was mental illness
Charlie Kaufman is undoubtedly a gifted scriptwriter, director and story-teller. He is known for iconic films such as Being John Malkovich, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, Synecdoche, New York and few others. Therefore, when my film review writing mentor suggested to me Kaufman’s new work for Netflix, I’m Thinking of Ending Things, I immediately became quite enthusiastic, excited, and desperate to devote time to watching this film, without any interruptions. A Saturday evening was an opportune moment, and I capitalized on it. I watched I’m Thinking of Ending Things.
The film’s plot centres around a couple who obviously have issues. The man, Jake played by Jesse Plemons, is depicted to have telepathic powers, and the woman, Lucy/Lucia played by Jessie Buckley, is depicted to have misgivings about her current relationship with the man. She is thinking of “ending things…” Whenever she says it out loud in her head, Jake becomes uneasy.
Characterization of Jake includes sudden anger, well-read intellect, fascination for poetry, and a tendency to speak in metaphors. The woman is a poet who does not like being told metaphors, but she is a master at them as well. Both are quantum physicists. There are three additional characters in this film as well, but I will leave them as surprises to the reader.
Let us jump into the thematic analysis of the film. I felt that the central theme of the script, which was adapted from Iain Reid's 2016 novel by the same name, was mental illness. There are several clues about this theme strewn across the film. The man has bipolar tendencies. The woman feels as trapped in the relationship as the protagonist from “The Yellow Wallpaper.” She is thinking of “ending things” not just in the relationship but maybe also in her own life.
Clues about child abuse, sexual abuse, overly strict parents, delusions of grandeur, hyper-realistic hallucinations, mentions of Freudian “claptraps”, voyeurism, bullying in school, and many other allusions to mental diseases litters the entire plot. I trust the readers of this review will find them all.
What is the genre of this film, of this dysfunctional relationship, you ask? It is a psychological horror, in my humble opinion. However, genres are decided by viewers and each viewer will watch the film with their own subjective lens. Were there pop culture references in this film like so many other films by Kaufman? There is a scene which directly alludes to the “Silence of the Lambs”.
Why should you watch it? I frankly do not know. There is an abundance of online content that can be streamed in 2020. Why did I watch it? My mentor suggested it. What do I feel about it? I felt like it was my own life story.
I highly recommend this film to all who suffer from mental health issues. The rest is up to you.