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The Relationship Thriller That's Killing It On Netflix

Serial odd duck and mind trip shiller Charlie Kaufman is up to his old tricks again, having recently dropped his new movie, I'm Thinking of Ending Things, on Netflix. Like so many Frankensteinian creators before him, he must now come to terms with the fact that his creation has a lust for death, as the motion picture ruthlessly and gleefully kills "it."

I'm Thinking of Ending Things, which received a limited theatrical release at the end of August, became available on Netflix on September 4th, 2020. It didn't take long for the psychological thriller to score a Certified Fresh rating on Rotten Tomatoes, with critics praising it as another typically bizarre and thoughtfully articulated Kaufman production. Within a week, it had bounced its way up the Top 10 Most Watched list, only losing the prestigious spot when audiences realized that 2011's The Smurfs, which featured both George Lopez and Jeff Foxworthy, was streaming for free.

Kaufman, most widely known for 1999's Being John Malkovich and perennial ill-advised date movie Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, began branching into directing his own work with 2008's Synecdoche, New York before disassembling his audience's brains with 2015's Anomalisa.

I'm Thinking of Ending Things represents Kaufman's first feature film in five years. Based on the Iain Reid novel of the same name, the film takes enormous liberties with the plot, which Kaufman explained in an IndieWire interview, "I'm most successful with adaptations when I allow myself to take it and do with it whatever makes sense to me. If I don't allow that to happen, then I end up with something that feels dead to me." This sense of artistic responsibility and "creation over representation," coincidentally, was also what inspired the image of Papa Smurf in sunglasses on the Smurfs poster.

I'm Thinking of Ending Things has people talking

I'm Thinking of Ending Things tells the story of a young woman — her name is sort of a mystery — on a day trip to meet the parents of her boyfriend, Jake, while at the same time considering ending the relationship. The woman is played by Jessie Buckley, best known for her work on Chernobyl and less well known as Queen Victoria in Robert Downey Jr.'s already forgotten Doctor Dolittle adaptation. Jake is portrayed by Jesse Plemons, previously of CBS's Friday Night Lights and last seen drooling into digital oblivion at the end of an episode of Black Mirror. Jake's parents, meanwhile, are played by David "Lupin from Harry Potter" Thewlis and perpetually upset onscreen mother Toni Collette. Character actor Guy Boyd plays a janitor. There's really not much else you can say about the movie without giving away the whole game, what with Charlie Kaufman's propensity for playing Jenga with the audience's psyche.

Critics have had plenty of positive remarks about the film. A three-and-a-half-star review at Roger Ebert called it, "Arguably (Kaufman's) most challenging work to date," praising its use of peculiar aspect ratio and unsettling cinematography. It's also posited that I'm Thinking of Ending Things might receive a more lukewarm reception than it deserves, thank to these kids and their dang electronics. "It's not something that should be watched while being distracted by your phone," reviewer Brian Tallerico writes. "It demands attention to allow its mood to find its way under your skin or it really won't work." The Smurfs, which stars Neil Patrick Harris and Hank Azaria, can be watched with almost any level of focus, but nobody thought to mention that in their reviews.