‘I’m Thinking of Ending Things’ — a demanding drama with captivating performances

“I’m Thinking of Ending Things” is adapted from Iain Reid’s 2016 novel of the same name. (Supplied)
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Updated 14 September 2020

‘I’m Thinking of Ending Things’ — a demanding drama with captivating performances

LONDON: Writer-director-producer Charlie Kaufman has built up a filmography that is a glorious mish-mash of dark surrealist comedy and existential pondering. But moviegoers hoping that “I’m Thinking of Ending Things” is tonally close to some Kaufman’s most popular movies — “Being John Malkovich” or “Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind,” say — might be in for a surprise.

“I’m Thinking of Ending Things”  is by writer-director-producer Charlie Kaufman. (Supplied)

“I’m Thinking of Ending Things” — adapted from Iain Reid’s 2016 novel of the same name — has, much like Kaufman’s other movies, a stellar cast turning in captivating performances. Jessie Buckley, excellent in 2019’s “Chernobyl” miniseries, plays a young woman contemplating her relationship with boyfriend Jake (“Breaking Bad” star Jesse Plemons) as the pair head to visit his parents, who are portrayed with unnerving eeriness by David Thewlis (Remus Lupin in the “Harry Potter” films) and Toni Collette (“Little Miss Sunshine”). After an uncomfortable evening, the two journey home through a snowstorm, the air of unease between them a palpable presence during the film’s second half.

To reveal too much more would be to hamstring the more crucial absurdities of the movie, but Kaufman’s use of unreliable narration, meandering monologues and surreal asides makes for a beguiling mix, albeit one that relies on absolute attention — “I’m Thinking of Ending Things” can be a tough movie to keep track of. A parallel plot following an elderly janitor cleaning a high school becomes increasingly pertinent to the film’s (somewhat) bewildering final third, as Kaufman asks the audience to consider how much, if any, of what they’ve seen is even true.

The runtime (clocking in at more than two hours) asks a lot of the audience, particularly as some of the movie’s more dreamlike elements tend to drag. The ending may be a bit of a head-scratcher, depending on how much you’ve been paying attention. Kaufman chooses to weave so many threads throughout the film, but doesn’t pull on them all during the finale.

“I’m Thinking of Ending Things” is unconventional, that’s for sure. Love him or loathe him, Kaufman remains one of Hollywood’s most distinctive voices.

Gerard Butler talks family and high-octane action films

Updated 30 September 2020

Gerard Butler talks family and high-octane action films

LOS ANGELES: Hollywood’s latest disaster movie offering, “Greenland,” sees humanity threatened by a comet on a collision course with Earth — Arab News sat down with stars Gerard Butler and Morena Baccarin to find out more about the high-octane film.

While many disaster movies focus on experts in big-picture attempts to stop the disaster, “Greenland” keeps the stakes personal by following the Garrity family as they journey to find shelter before it’s too late.

“This story is so relatable because this guy, he’s not a Secret Service agent. He’s not a superhero,” Butler said of his character, John Garrity. “He’s just a dad and he’s not even a perfect dad.”

“Greenland” follows the Garrity family as they journey to find shelter before it’s too late. Supplied

As meteorites decimate cities and people give in to panic, the estranged Garrity family grows closer, mirroring Butler’s real-life relationships with his parents, who despite having not seen him in months due to COVID-19 restrictions, are still just as doting as ever. 

“It’s very sweet that they still care and you’re still their little boy,” Butler said, adding that he mined his relationship with his parents for insight on how to play a caring father. “That definitely helped me in the role, to play that father who will do anything in these trying times to try and protect his family in the midst of this craziness.”

The film was directed by Ric Roman Waugh. Supplied

And while their characters were growing closer, the actors formed a tight knit group as well. Co-star Morena Baccarin told Arab News that she coached and comforted the actor playing the family’s young son — Roger Dale Flloyd — and that she and Butler became good friends on set.

“There are days where you’re just so tired and you’re not in the mood or you don’t want to put yourself through the ringer emotionally,” Baccarin — who plays estranged wife Allison Garrity — said, adding “we just could check in with each other and be there for each other and that was really nice.”

Directed by Ric Roman Waugh, the film has faced repeated delays in the US, but has already hit the big screens in some international markets — including Saudi Arabia and the UAE — where COVID-19 regulations have been amended.