"The only way to weave happily through this two and a quarter hour fantasy is to surrender to the tantalizing, playful, disjointed interactions and embrace the wildly unusual joy of letting go of reason and judgment."
-Diane Carson, Sep 13, 2020
“I’m Thinking of Ending Things” feels like a movie that could be hurt by the Netflix model. It’s not something that should be watched while being distracted by your phone. It demands attention to allow its mood to find its way under your skin or it really won’t work. It has a remarkable cumulative power, even as it narratively seems to make less and less sense. You have to give yourself over to it, and you'll be moved by some of its later imagery even if you have no idea how to explain why. Kaufman is trying to find a storytelling approach that goes beyond simple plot, conveying the loneliness and relative stasis of human existence. It’s a movie in which the two leads spend most of the film in a moving car and yet it feels like they can’t get anywhere. One says, “you slide into the onslaught of identical days,” which doesn’t just have added meaning in 2020 but seems essential to Kaufman’s approach. Yes, of course, all days are identical, because we are the ones who bring meaning to them, sometimes falsely and sometimes because we have to in order to survive these identical days. The title starts to turn in on itself. You can’t end things. Nothing ends. It just goes on. And even thinking of ending things could actually break the world in front of you.
- Brian Tallerico September 04, 2020
Each of us is comprised of a ragtag band of identities, roles, and personas. In order to survive change, we create new personalities. The idiosyncratic characters in many of Charlie Kaufman's films are resilient and fluid characters. American psychiatrist Robert Jay Lifton calls them protean selves. This tendency -- to fantasize aspects of ourselves or assume new identities -- could be what the narrator is referring to when she quotes Oscar Wilde: "Most people are other people. Their thoughts are someone else's opinions, their lives a mimicry, their passions a quotation."