Adapted from the book I’m Thinking of Ending Things by Iain Reid, the 134-minute film is directed by Charlie Kaufman and ditches the blockbuster-spectacle for a story that delves into the deepest corners of the minds of both the characters and the audience itself.
What was once separated is now meshed together, as the audience struggles to understand whether the characters or they themselves are being examined and questioned. Starring Jessie Buckley (Lucy/Amy) and Jesse Plemons (Jake), the film highlights the relationship of the couple through a metaphysical journey toward meeting Jake’s parents, who are portrayed by Toni Collette and David Thewlis.
However, upon arrival at the parent’s house, suspicious and unexplained events take place, leading the audience to question every bit of reality. What is real, who is the narrator, and what is time are some of the questions that begin to surface during this high-stakes, dramatic thriller.
The achievement in this film is not within the cinematography (though it is absolutely beautiful) or the score, which is breathtaking and suspenseful, but it is with the writing and editing of this story. Many scenes that transferred the feeling of awkward tensions were some of the best scenes, for as they were analyzing the characters at that moment, they were also studying the viewer and the reactions the watcher experienced. The writing and editing execute an eerie feel to the film where it is hard to watch, yet you cannot look away.
The thriller aspect of it excites and terrifies the audience. This writing led to many instances where, since it is a Netflix original film, I had to pause and contemplate what was going on with the characters and how it made me feel about the life I was trapped in. This is one of only a few films where I felt myself paralyzed in the thought that the narrator was inside my head and highlighting aspects that I do and don’t like about myself.
The other big standout in this film was the incredible cast, with every actor acting at an unbelievable level. Each character demanded the screen with their performance, and each actor deserves heavy consideration come award season. However, while given only supporting roles, Toni Collete and David Thewlis were the clear standouts as their characters experienced many facades across a short period of screen time. Both actors dazzled the screen with their brilliantly psychotic performances, electrifying the viewer into complete hypnotics.
This film isn’t perfect, mainly due to a slow pace and an abundance of confusion. Where Tenet worked for me with the time concepts, this film leaves everything up to the audience and, while beautiful, it also annoyed me because I wasn’t too sure of what was what, who was who, was this person real or fictional and is this some supernatural event, or is it all an illusion? I felt a little betrayed at the end because the story left more questions than answers, and the answers that were provided were optional.
Overall, this is a win for Netflix and an experience that is essential in better understanding yourself. Through incredible acting and an utmost magnificent story, this film gave me some emotion that most films don’t provide. This film can be summed up as simply as Jake awkwardly says in an immensely long car ride, “The world’s larger than the inside of your own head.”