Charlie Kaufman’s “I’m Thinking of Ending Things” Reveals A Deeper Meaning, Confusing Viewers


From left, Jesse Plemons (Jake), Jessie Buckley (young woman), Toni Collette (Jake’s mom) and David Thewlis (Jake’s dad), in “I’m Thinking of Ending Things.” Photo credit to Mary Cybulski of Netflix.

Lexie Worden, Reporter

On a Friday night, with nothing better to do, I searched through Netflix, looking for something to watch. I was familiar with I’m Thinking of Ending Things because I had seen several Tik Toks on my For You page saying something along the lines of “this movie messed me up,” or “now my head hurts. 

After watching a trailer on YouTube, I went into it expecting a new take on Jordan Peele’s mysterious and uncomfortable productions such as Get Out and Us. 

Warning: Spoilers Ahead 

Charlie Kaufman’s I’m Thinking of Ending Things follows the narrative of a young woman (Lucy), whose name is never clearly mentioned, who is having doubts about the man she has been dating for a short period of time, Jake. Jake, seemingly more interested in having a relationship than he is with the young woman, invites her to his parents’ house in the middle of nowhere on a secluded farm.  

When Jake brings her in, you can noticeably see a white door with scratch marks, leading to the basement. This eerie picture brings an uncomfortable feeling that presents itself throughout the movie. 

Jake and the young woman take a long, awkward drive during the winter snow, as the woman repeatedly lets the audience know that she’s “thinking of ending things” but is not saying it aloud, only thinking it.  

The repeated phrase of “I’m thinking of ending things” throughout the movie integrates the suspense if things will actually end. While she repeats these words in her head, Jake turns to look at her, interrupting her thoughts, as if he can hear what she is saying, but he can’t. Or at least, we don’t think so.  

Throughout the movie, scenes of an older man, who is a janitor at a school, show him walking through the halls, which is quite puzzling, but his presence later becomes significant to the purpose of Jake and the young woman. 

Once they both reach his parents’ house, things start to get even more chaotic and mind-boggling. First off, the young woman, Jake, and his mother and father sit down at the dining room table for dinner. During this sequence of events, Jake’s parents start to age slowly, you can tell from the wrinkles on their face and grey hair. 

Among the many other strange scenes that occur, the movie ultimately ends with Jake and the young woman driving back home, and along the way they stop at Jake’s old High School, in which there was one other car parked in the lot. Inside, there is the janitor that was introduced in several scenes, as he is seen nude, following an animated pig throughout the school. 

According to Kaufman, the janitor died in his car from a stroke/heart attack, but it is not clearly shown to the audience. I think what Kaufman tries to do is to let the audience to find out information on their own, rather than being directly told. That is something I really liked about this movie, although there is lots of vagueness, I find it slightly more interesting to sit and think rather than know. 

Kaufman’s production reveals a slightly confusing message about the different points of human life that we experience. 

The strangeness of everything is essential to what the movie is ultimately trying to tell us; life is not a simple straight line, but it is a series of events based on time. I have read multiple articles and I have watched several videos about what this movie is actually trying to tell us, but I think Kaufman wants us to figure that out on our own. Multiple sources claim to say that the young woman is a figment of Jake’s imagination or that neither Jake or the young woman are real, but were fantasized by the janitor. I think we can make the movie whatever we really want it to be, whether Jake and the young woman are real or not, and I think that’s what Kaufman intended on doing. 

While we can make our conclusions based on what we believe, there are lots of unknowns. There are so many possibilities of what the movie is actually about, and although that may frustrate others, I like the mystery. 

Charlie Kaufman’s cinematic display is captivating, a psychological head-scratcher that leaves you questioning life itself. You will begin to start asking yourself questions and realize that we take life for granted so often, and we hardly ever stop to appreciate what we have been given.  

I encourage you to take a look at this movie and give it a try. It is definitely not for everyone, and it is definitely not something to be watching if you are going to be distracted by your phone because every second is important. Although you will most likely finish the movie with a headache like I did, it will change your perspective on what you see around you, and hopefully, will allow you to think outside the box.