No two snowflakes are the same. Despite a finite number of patterned symmetrical crystallization, predetermined by molecule arrangements no two ends up alike. Every snowflake’s uniqueness is determined by its environment. What temperature it falls at? The humidity of the air? Singularity isn’t determined by who we are but how we exist.
At the end of they day everyone is a person. Race, gender, sexuality are simply different molds of the same DNA, same anatomical structures, same matter. Then we go around, and nobody exists the same. Where you grew up, what you ate for breakfast, what movies you’ve watched end up defining who you become. Even identical twins grow different tastes, and interests and make different decisions.
Snowflakes are nature’s fleeting beauty, falling gracefully. Fragile and destined to melt. I’m thinking of ending things.
Such philosophical dialogue is an uncanny way to start most reviews, however in the context of Kaufman’s latest cerebral film it seems fittingly appropriate. In terms of raw uniqueness, there’s an argument that nobody is quite making films like Kaufman. Kaufman follows his previous dark existential films: Anomalisa, Synecdoche, New York, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, and Being John Malkovich with more of the same. If you have watched any of the previously mentioned films then you know the mind unraveling nonsense that comes with the territory.
Ironic that this film is currently sharing the spotlight with Disney’s Mulan remake, as it serves as the ultimate antithesis. Kaufman’s films seem unfortunately allergic to box office success, typically failing to bring any profit to his ambitious art house ventures. Instead of regurgitating pale imitations of movies you’ve seen before, Kaufman delivers yet again on his promise to bring something innovative to the table.
I guess I should consider myself lucky. Partaking in this experiment to exist as my thoughts. Like a brain in a jar, molting away my appearance, my name (well most of it), my reputation and existing as a persona as some figment entity. I’m able to express myself better, and be more confident, and meet people I’d never have known otherwise. There are perks to living a double life. Though I fear it’s less of a double and more like 2 half-lives. Two incomplete beings running parallel to one another, prolonging the inevitable decay. I’m thinking of ending things.
If there’s one thing to praise about the film, it is just how complete of a production it is. Every detail is meticulously laid out. There’s purpose and meaning behind every wardrobe choice, every piece of set design, and especially every line of dialogue. I will admit that sometimes Kaufman’s antics recite like a book report, possessing an eagerness to share the knowledge of his recent studies. However, it always led to such thematic density that it is excused. The script definitely always favors the intellectuals, it would probably be refreshing to see Kaufman experiment with a layperson for once. Have a character rant about the quirks of certain species or the themes of a musical and the person responding act sort of how most of us would, “what the fuck are you talking about”.
I’m scared that one day K is going to run into a wall and realize that the best is long behind us. That I’ll be discovered as obsolete, that any spark of dopamine I once stirred in the few will soon be tranquilized. Eventually the well of gimmicks and tricks to keep myself relevant, or enticing, or worth any value will dry up. Afraid that I’ll spoil and mold before even feeling that I accomplished anything. It’s only natural I would seek comfort in retiring on my own terms. Yet I doubt, I’ve done anything worth escaping with any fondness. That I’m burdened by the perception of sunken cost. To leave now would make what little I have made of myself worthless.
Nobody wants their legacy to be tainted nostalgia. Like that beach you remember fondly as a kid only to return as an adult on a cloudy day and remember the irksome nature of sand in your crotch and the shrill squeal of the seagulls, and tenderness of sunburn. I’m thinking of ending things.
The enjoyment of experiencing this film comes with the puzzle that it presents. I think what separates this from Synecdoche, New York is the extent of how interpretative its element is. While some of the details are murky, I’m Thinking of Ending Things seem to present one conclusion. I’m no genus, but it seems that once the film reaches a conclusion you get the gist of it. With the surmounting evidence I don’t know how someone denies the [REDACTED] reality of [REDACTED] or see the relationship between [REDACTED] and [REDACTED] that is revealed through parallel [REDACTED] to reach a different conclusion. Hence, I gravitate more towards Synecdoche as it’s meaning appears unattainable in whole, which compels greater digging and viewing with a lens of higher scrutiny.
Maybe I could be something if I just subscribed to being conventional. If I could just construct a façade of normalcy. Keep a review simple, state facts and opinions. Review the movies that everyone else watches and stop pretending these quirks aren’t off-putting. Nobody cares about the things I review, or the designs I make, or about me. A review is for someone to feel validated in their own opinion, seeking out someone they’ve deemed trustworthy.
Nobody takes a clown seriously; nobody cares for the song and dance of performing perspective. There’s no place for artistry or humor or entertainment in criticism. All of that is probably just taxing on the patience of any fool I’ve snared to mistakenly end up on one of them. A number rating is sufficient enough, all explanation is fluff and filler. What’s the point of writing if it’s perceived as insufficient?
I’m sure it brings me a degree of catharsis as does these fading messages that lowly escape the reader unwilling to put in the effort to venture further. Receding back into the privacy of my mind. Even though these thoughts are laid out, they only exist to me unless someone else stumbles upon them. I’m sure writing for the sake of myself would grow too self-indulgent and eventually would come across as lamentable. I’m thinking of ending things.
It’s surreal and uncanny, and frightening and genuine cinema. What more could you ask for? Sure, it won’t be for everyone but what ever is? Jesse Plemons and Jessie Buckley give absolutely transfixing performances so it great to see highlights in their young careers. Toni Collette is a welcomed member of the cast as she always is. Overall, it is a performance movie, giving long segments of dialogue and locking us in with these characters where they have to carry the scenes devoid of much action. It also is a hard performance piece because much of it is understated. Not a ton of passion or extreme emotions, a lot of the 2nd act revels in how stagnant the status is.
As someone who did not go in reading the story by Iain Reid, I find the adapted changes to the ending slightly hit or miss. In general, some aspects of the film seem to foreshadow the more horror-esque finale of the book. However, the more experimental, and cerebral ending that Kaufman seems right up his alley.
At the end of the day, something about I’m Thinking of Ending Things can’t escape what it is: A Netflix Kaufman film. It feels scaled down, it’s production sleek but presents itself like a lavish TV movie. The ambitious film making is still there, but something about this attempt comes across like a very complex, long episode of The Twilight Zone. I appreciate that Netflix is funding the projects of creative filmmakers. Even when they get burned like with Dan Gilroy’s Velvet Buzzsaw they are at least giving chances to artist and not just making Kissing Booth Sequels.
I’m Thinking of Ending Things is a high note in 2020 cinema and while some won’t be fond of the ride it is certainly one to travel down the treacherous road.
I’m quite honestly constantly questioning whether I should end things? Or at least where I see my end game. I’ve never been asked but find myself timid around the question of where I see this blog in 5 years. I don’t see it in 5 years. I don’t see myself stopping either? For better or worst I live too much in the moment. The future scares me, it’s unpredictable and treacherous.
I believe there are two different types of perfectionist in the world. The first yearn for absolute perfection, this was my sister. Anything less than a 100% was considered unacceptable. The other type is tremendously repulsed by failure. The idea of shortcomings or failing to reach a goal is a sign of inadequacy, inherent flaw, or personal defect. That’s me.
I’ve always been my harshest critic, and sometimes I know it’s that harshness that compels me forward, to keep trying. To prove to everyone that I exist, and I exist with purpose, and be more than just a failure. I’m never satisfied with what I have. I appreciate what I do. I’ve had people worth being around and compelling me to be the best version of myself I can. I hate the idea of letting those people down, especially those who had an ounce of faith in me for reasons my shrouded judgement won’t allow me to conceive.
So, I’m thinking of ending things. But I’m thinking of what comes next just the same. The snow is falling, I wonder where it will land?