I’m Thinking of Ending Things Parent Guide
This isn’t a movie for the casual filmgoer. You’re going to want to be prepared to do a lot of thinking and a lot of analysis before you sit down to watch this.
Parent Movie Review
A young woman (Jessie Buckley) is privately having second thoughts about her ongoing relationship with Jake (Jesse Plemons), but has agreed to drive out to his family farm to meet his parents. The drive intensifies her unease, as a nasty winter storm seems to be brewing, and she has work to do at home the next day – but once she arrives at the farmhouse, things go from worrying to bizarre. Jake’s mother (Toni Collette) and father (David Thewlis) are more than just a little strange, and things around her seem to be keeping up with the overall weirdness. Unfortunately, leaving is never as easy as we hope, and the young woman finds herself desperate to get out…
If you’re familiar with Charlie Kaufman’s other directorial work, you should have a pretty good idea what to expect here, although this veers a little towards the David Lynch end of the spectrum. I’m Thinking of Ending Things isn’t a movie for the casual filmgoer. You’re going to want to be prepared to do a lot of thinking and a lot of analysis before you sit down to watch this.
As with a lot of art films, there are some content concerns – although far fewer than I had anticipated. The only real violence takes place during the interpretive dance sequence (no, I’m not kidding), and is almost completely sterile and highly stylized. There is some brief sexual language and brief non-sexual posterior nudity, but nothing you couldn’t get away with in a PG-13 rated film. The biggest problem is the language, with nearly a dozen sexual expletives alone. In fairness, this was never intended for a family audience: even if this film were spotlessly clean, the odds of a kid enjoying this are slightly lower than my odds of winning the lottery.
This is one of those movies that expects the viewer to put in some work. It isn’t that you’ll miss anything shocking if you aren’t focused on the screen the whole time, this isn’t a cinematic “Where’s Waldo”. You’ll just be in a better position to make your own interpretations later if you try and contextualize, analyze, and digest things as you go along. I’m not going to tell you my conclusions, since I think most of the fun is to be had in the truly unsettling atmosphere of the film and in making your own determinations. I will say that I like weird movies, and I absolutely loved this one. It’s almost completely transportive: no matter where or when you watch this, you’ll feel like you saw it on an old projector in a basement at 3am. For me, that’s a good thing – but then, I’m fairly strange myself. Your mileage may vary.Directed by Charlie Kaufman. Starring Jesse Plemons, Jessie Bukley, and Toni Collette. Running time: 134 minutes. Theatrical release September 4, 2020. Updated September 4, 2020
Watch the trailer for I’m Thinking of Ending Things
I’m Thinking of Ending Things Parents' Guide
This is a movie open to multiple interpretations. What do you think is happening? What do the events say about the characters? What does your interpretation say about you? Do you think the film is too referential to be broadly accessible? How does the enigmatic style affect your enjoyment of the film? How would you classify this movie?
The protagonist is frequently seen reconsidering her choices, and even reframing or retelling her own past in different styles. Why does she do this? Why is this an important part of the story?
Do you think that Jake as a character is a protagonist or an antagonist? What kind of person is he? How does that person change over the course of the story? How does his relationship with his parents change throughout the film?
Loved this movie? Try these books…
This film is based on a novel of the same name by Canadian author Iain Reid. Kurt Vonnegut’s Slaughter-House Five also features deep character studies about a man with a loose relationship in time.
Related home video titles:
Blizzards are the starting point of a few great enigmatic horror films: The Shining and The Lodge both spring to mind. Toni Collette has also had her turn in some dramatic scares, notably in Hereditary. Fans of director Charlie Kaufman’s unique style might enjoy his other work, including Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind and Synecdoche, New York. Another strange and hard-to-decipher film is The Lighthouse, starring Robert Pattison and Willem Defoe.