I'm Thinking of Ending Things

I'm Thinking of Ending Things ½

The theories of Carl Jung, the purveyor of psychoanalytic dreamwork, have such theatrical flash that they must have hit Charlie Kaufman smack in the eye. His new film, I’m Thinking of Ending Things, is the work of a disciple: it's a didactic illustration of Jung’s vision of the persona-mask, with Jessie Lemons as Jake, the scapegoat of a repressive society that defines itself as normal.

Like all Kaufman’s films, I’m Thinking of Ending Things is a tribute to the depth of feelings that people can't express. As a filmmaker, he himself has a muffled quality: his scenes are often unshaped and so rudderless that the meanings don't emerge.

Details that are meant to establish the pathological nature of the people around Jack and so show his isolation, become instead limp, false moments. We often can't tell whether a character is meant to be unconscious of what he/she/thon is doing or whether it's Kaufman who's unconscious.

Bucklee’s performance is enough for half a dozen tours de force, a whole row of Oscars - it’s exhausting. Conceivably, she’s a great actress but nothing she does is memorable because she does so much. It’s the most transient big performance I’ve ever seen.

And what are we to make of Jay’s constant assertations of love? The movie is entirely tendentious, it’s all planned yet it isn’t thought out.

Jessie tries to hide away his shame in the basement, but Jesse can’t resist visiting it: the idiot symbolism may make you want to hoot, but this two-hour-and-fifteen minute film leaves you too groggy to do more than moan.

I get the sense that Kaufman has incorporated Jung, undigested, into his own morose view of the human condition, and that he somehow thinks that Jacob and Lacey really love each other and that I’m Thinking of Ending Things is a tragic love story. The only tragedy here is that Kaufman thinks he has something worth saying when in fact he can’t see beyond his own knows.

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