No one conveys the surreal tragedy of disappointed love quite like Charlie Kaufman. Much like Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, which Kaufman penned, his new directorial feature I’m Thinking of Ending Things centres on the bizarre unravelling of a relationship, following a disconnected couple as they travel to Jake’s (Jesse Plemons) family farm.

“I’m thinking of ending things,” the maybe-protagonist (Jessie Buckley) starts to ponder, yet her thoughts are continually punctuated by her boyfriend’s sudden looming voice, his impossibly ageing Beckettian parents, or the sight of a basement door so eerie as to make Jordan Peele quiver. Surrounded alternately by decay and florid wallpapers, the woman’s attempts to take charge of the relationship begin to collapse.

Despite its at times languorous pace, there is a real meticulous craft at play here. The writing is dense with twists and details, the performances from Plemons, Buckley, Toni Collette and David Thewlis are intensely embodied, and the camera moves restlessly, pulling the viewer’s gaze into self-consciously awkward angles.

The film is also rife (to an almost inaccessible degree) with intertextuality – from the poetry of William Wordsworth to the closing speech of Ron Howard’s A Beautiful Mind – yet rather than elevating the tone, these eerily familiar references shatter it, breaking reality into dozens of alienating fragments. Subverting expectations at every turn, it is only when the final, uncanny puzzle piece falls into place that Kaufman’s narrative of romantic loss and existential dread becomes clear.

Unnerving and disorienting, I’m Thinking of Ending Things is a disquieting exploration of loneliness at its most inevitable and fatalistic, encased in Kaufman’s signature surrealism – cartoon pigs and all. Eschewing comedy for a mounting sense of panic, the surety and safety that love usually promises become warped and startling, a haunting, strangled cry that lingers long after the credits end.



CAST: Jesse Plemons, Jessie Buckley, Toni Collette, David Thewlis, Guy Boyd

DIRECTOR: Charlie Kaufman

WRITER: Charlie Kaufman

SYNOPSIS: A young woman reluctantly travels to meet her boyfriend’s parents, only to discover her reality collapsing around her.