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Non-Review Review: I’m Thinking of Ending Things

“There is no objective reality,” explains Jake late in I’m Thinking of Ending Things. “You know there’s no colour in the universe, right? Only in the brain.”

This seems to be as close to a thesis statement at I’m Thinking of Ending Things dares to offer. Charlie Kaufman’s latest work is a dense and surrealist exploration of the fragility of memory and identity, and the blurred boundaries that exist between the inside and the outside. The story is relatively simple. A young woman accompanies her boyfriend on a trip to have dinner with his parents. She needs to get home, but there is a snow storm. As the couple journey into rural America, things begin to slowly but surely unravel.

Snow escape.

There’s been an abundance of cinema recently about the collapse of time and reality, the sense of a universe folding into itself – Palm Springs, TENET, Bill and Ted Face the Music. These films are made all the more uncanny for having been produced long before the current global pandemic unravelled our sense of space and time, but seem to speak perfectly to it. That anxiety that all of history is happening at once and that “cause” and “effect” are unmoored as reality itself contorts and bends.

I’m Thinking of Ending Things stands apart from these other films, as one might expect of a Charlie Kaufman project. I’m Thinking of Ending Things has a greater interiority. The film seems to unfold in vast snowy wilderness, but it seems just as accurate to suggest that it unfolds in the writer’s imagination. Perhaps it isn’t time and reality that contort, but simply the protagonist’s understanding of these concepts. Then again, do these ideas exist in some absolute and objective form somewhere, or are they just concepts that people label so as to feel more comfortable?

Table discussion for later.

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