“I’m Thinking of Ending Things” Lost in its Ideas

This unusual original film has debuted on Netflix

Someone is slowly going mad, and it starts to feel like an audience having its patience tried. Writer/director Charlie Kaufman’s snow-tinged four-hander psychological drama I’m Thinking of Ending Things (C) is one of those slow simmer stories in which most of what happens doesn’t make much sense until the final act, and not even completely then. Jessie Buckley plays the ponderous protagonist who visits with her increasingly unusual boyfriend (Jesse Plemons) to the home of his eccentric parents (Toni Collette and David Thewlis) where events unfold with confounding absurdity. Kaufman’s dense dialogue, insider pop culture and art references, time jumps, creepy camerawork and riffs on a bleak outlook are consistently watchable, but it keeps feeling like it’s going to add up to more or that it’s riddles will finally reveal themselves. All four primary actors are delightful even with obtuse and impenetrable characters. It’s a singular, sometimes hallucinogenic work from an idiosyncratic creator but ultimately doesn’t completely reward those who prattle through its labyrinth.

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