I’m Thinking of Ending Things is the type of movie you would expect to see at the Sundance Film Festival in the 20th Century. It’s high-concept, boldly experimental, and fully intends to live rent-free in your head after you’ve finished watching.
It’s also the type of movie that might inspire weird dreams in the impressionable, or open a tinderbox of repressed emotion that may have some moving up their appointments with their therapist.
It all depends on the person because I’m Thinking of Ending Things is a rare cinematic Rorschach test for this day and age. It shifts through time and character approaches with a discontinuity that would seem like poor scripting and directing in a lesser film.
Yet it’s done so well that the warped-mirror effect stays intact. Characters switch from old to young and back. They shift from achingly polite to cognitively combative and back again with no explanation.
Because none is needed.
On its face, the movie’s plot could not be simpler:
A woman goes on a trip to meet her boyfriend’s parents on the night of a forecasted snow storm.
They make the drive, have dinner, then head home.
Couldn’t be more straightforward.
Yet this journey shifts and distorts like a reflection in a circus mirror — switching through perspectives in a way that tests the audience as to when they’ll toss up red flags and call a cinematic foul.
I’m Thinking of Ending Things is intentional in a way American movies rarely are anymore.
It’s what low-budget films are supposed to be: passionately produced performance art with a philosophical dissertation at its heart.
I must confess that I didn’t watch this film for quite some time because I sensed the mental heavy lifting in it and I just wasn’t in the mood.
But the film has Toni Collette in it. And while I can’t say I’ve seen every movie she’s ever been in, it’s my rule that: If I’m on the fence about watching a movie, and Toni Collette is in it, I watch the movie. She’s a rare and phenomenal actor with excellent taste in projects.
So, in the end, I watched I’m Thinking of Ending Things for her. And I’m glad. Although, I DO have some recommendations if you’re thinking of watching it, too.
Recommendations for watching this movie:
Recommendation #1: Watch this movie WITH someone who likes to talk about movies. Because this is a movie that wants to be talked about after it’s done and is definitely waiting to be nitpicked by people hoping to outsmart it.
Yet this movie is so well-developed and stitched together that it can take the scrutiny of nearly anyone, I think. So find someone smart who likes to talk about movies and watch it with them.
Recommendation #2: If psychologically heavy movies aren’t your thing and give you strange dreams after, then this is the kind of movie you’ll probably dream about. So know that coming in and bring a coping mechanism.
My suggestion: DYSFUNCTIONAL RELATIONSHIP BINGO CARDS
Write down a list of all the abusive behaviors you can think of that happen within a romantic relationship, then choose your faves to fill out a bingo card.
Then press PLAY on Netflix and go for BINGO!
Oh, the fun you’ll have watching the tropes play out. You might even get a blackout on your card!
This might make the film more fun to talk about once the credits start rolling and a little less-likely to send you retreating in a cave of overwhelmed and unprocessed anxiety.
Because, again, this is a film that is meant to be talked about with a group of friends you like talking about things with. It dares you to voice its insights and consider their accuracy. It asks you to admit the obvious, while giving you every excuse not to.
It’s true art.
So grab your friends, assemble your coping mechanisms (if needed), and make a night of watching and discussing I’m Thinking of Ending Things.
It’s a great film — a sleeper hit that will age well and stay relevant across generations, like Gaslight. And it is worth watching for all the same reasons.
Watch the trailer here: