Wed. Sep 28th, 2022

The trailer for I’m thinking of ending things

Lost in all the hype surrounding the release of two surefire blockbusters taking very different approaches to the current state of cinema, Netflix quietly debuted the first Charlie Kaufman movie in five years this weekend: I’m thinking about ending things. The Mysterious and Absurd Worlds of Kaufman – van Amendment until being John Malkovich until Eternal sunshine of the spotless spirit-often depend on big concepts and even bigger ideas. So while the director’s work may not have the same audience potential as Basic principle or mulan, it can really stay with you (Eternal Sunshine made Ars’ list of the best sci-fi ever, for example). To a subset of movie fans, this one is definitely the most anticipated movie of Labor Day weekend 2020.

The fact that Kaufman ultimately chose to partner with a major streaming service means: I’m thinking of ending things theoretically has the potential to help the filmmaker find his largest audience as well. Anyway… while I’m thinking of ending things always been a bit bizarre, the most mind-boggling thing about calling it a “Netflix movie” might be. Get ready to play on the platform’s strangest release yet.

House on the property

Quantum physics student Lucy (Jessie Buckley) and her boyfriend Jake (Jesse Plemons) head for the rural farmland of Oklahoma so she can meet his parents for the first time. The two haven’t been dating for very long, but Lucy’s inner thoughts are already suggesting that they won’t be dating for much longer. “I should be excited looking at the first of many, but I’m not,” Lucy tells us at the start of their claustrophobic car ride. When will they finally arrive? “Everything must die, that’s the truth… it’s a uniquely human fantasy that things will get better, born perhaps of a uniquely human understanding that they won’t.”

But still, Lucy sees Jake as… fine† He treats her nicely. He has interests and a drive to improve. And apparently family is important to him, as he will navigate what appears to be an evolving snow storm for this dinner. Lucy has to go home tonight to be at work tomorrow morning, and Jake initially commits to that tight timeline as well.

However, the blizzard soon becomes the least of Lucy’s worries. Jake’s parents (Toni Collette and David Thewlis) seem strange almost immediately. Harmless, based on first impressions, but totally strange. And by the time dessert comes out, Lucy senses something is up. She keeps getting missed calls from ‘Lucy’. The family dog ​​doesn’t stop shedding non-existent water. And pictures of baby Jake on the wall look very much like baby Lucy at times. Jake warned her that the old farmhouse didn’t have much to offer, especially the nondescript bedrooms upstairs and the unfinished basement below. But as the blizzard continues to get worse and Jake slowly loses his enthusiasm for going back quickly, Lucy begins to explore what she thought was a ranch, but what increasingly appears to be a permanent place with very fluid definitions of time and reality.

Lucy, I don’t know what I see either

I’m thinking of ending things leans so hard into the abstract that you can’t help but wonder what the full picture is even while you’re watching. Normally that’s part of the charm of a Kaufman movie, but it’s a dangerous proposition with something exclusive to Netflix. In the pre-quarantine era, once you bought a ticket to the theater, your pot was devoted and focused only on the screen. But a streaming movie nowadays has to compete for your attention again and again because you are at home with others and your phone is within reach. I’m thinking of ending things will test the stakes of many viewers more than a few times during the two hours plus.

This project was meant for Netflix from the start, so it’s surprising how on-Netflix the final version feels. Yes, the streaming service has other examples of truly indulgent filmmaking (Rome) and meandering, methodically flowing stories (the Irishman), but those movies are the exceptions. Netflix excels more regularly in sleek, fast-moving movies in a variety of genres, from extraction until To all the boys I loved before until Dolomite is my name. On the other hand, the first half hour of I’m thinking of ending things takes place entirely in a dimly lit car with Lucy and Jake in close-up. Things really take off when Lucy and Jake reach the farm, but even that is fleeting. Soon, Jake and Lucy escape back to their car, where lengthy discussions about filmmaker John Cassavetes’ 1974 thriller A woman under the influence The legacy of David Foster Wallace and the nature of the personality soon follow. “You’re being stupid on purpose,” Lucy tells Jake (and not Kaufman, I think).

General, I’m thinking of ending things is very off-stage: minimal sets (the car, the farm, a Dairy Queen knock-off, and a school), long scenes made with very little action and very in-depth dialogue, and lots of quotes, ideas, or moments that are allegorical. feel as they happen. (This surface-level analogy is also reinforced by a few spoiler-like things.) The performances also often have the volume turned all the way up. Thewlis and Collette, in particular, clearly had the green light to lean into the craziness of their characters as much as they wanted, and Plemons’ Jake fluctuates between feeling like an illusion and a new, but uninspiring, boyfriend. I had more than a few flashbacks to dissect waiting for godot in high school english lesson: in I’m thinking of ending things, eventually you realize that what is being wrestled with in the script has always been more important than what is happening in front of your eyes.

Kaufman has made a career in surrealist cinema, and I’m thinking of ending things has just as many ideas and just as much disregard for the laws of nature as his earlier works – it just doesn’t land everything quite so cleanly. Sometimes I wondered if we were in the mind of someone struggling with dementia: Jake, for example, calls Lucy “Louisa” and “Lucia” in conversation and no one skips a beat; we also see people appearing at different ages within the same ‘night’. Or maybe this ranch is a manifestation of the idea that your whole life flashes before you right before death as we seem to see Jake’s existence stuck in fast forward through Lucy. Supporting characters, from Jake’s mom to the young woman making milkshakes at a Dairy Queen knock-off, all seem to break the fourth wall to warn Lucy of trouble ahead, the title could be cast in a more fatal light interpreted, and Lucy’s inner monologue houses on the nature of existence very much“We stand still, time passes through us… and leaves us, I don’t know, dead,” she says at one point. “It’s tragic how few people possess their souls before they die,” she reflects on another.

And if I’m thinking of ending things ultimately wants to say something about relationships, that something is certainly not promising. Eternal sunshine, Kaufman’s masterpiece focuses on the same subject, stating that the journey of falling in love is worth continuing, even if the ultimate destination is a tragic ending, more often than not. But more than a decade later, Kaufman is playing a very different tune. Lucy trudges forward with Jake in this increasingly downward spiraling moment without Jake showing any redeeming qualities. He acts like a walking quote that Lucy regularly corrects, he doesn’t recognize her increasingly urgent pleas to come home, and he doesn’t bother to keep the details of their relationship origins straight. If relationships are destined to be this way, Lucy’s struggle suggests not getting in the car at all.

I’m thinking of ending things is likely to be a movie that’s more fun to think about, read, or discuss than to watch — which, again, feels a little counterintuitive to everything else Netflix has so far. mr. Robot creator Sam Esmail called it his favorite movie of the year, while at the same time noting that it was, er, lack of plot on Twitter. Personally, I quickly went looking for a summary of the book that inspired this, Ian Reid’s 2016 debut novel of the same name. That might have made what I saw “fit” into an idea a little better; certainly some of Lucy’s quotes sound different: “Most people are other people: their thoughts are someone else’s opinion, their life is an imitation, their passions a quote.”

All of that assumes that Kaufman wanted to stay true to the original story, which isn’t guaranteed. Even before we knew theaters wouldn’t be an option, this author set out to avoid many of the features now associated with the streaming format. I’m thinking of ending things would probably play better in an arthouse movie theater with a cafe waiting for the audience just outside, but like Lucy’s ultimate fate, we’ll never know.

Advertisement image by Mary Cybulski/NETFLIX © 2020

By akfire1

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