For the past couple of weeks, this writer has been consumed with Charlie Kaufman‘s new novel ‘Antkind’. The first literary effort from the longtime screenwriter/filmmaker, it abounds with all of his artistic signatures in their purest forms: absurdist wordplay, manipulations of time and space, introspection and anxiety. But even though the page may afford Kaufman a greater degree of freedom, it does leave one with a slight hankering for another visual representation of his inimitable creative sensibility.
And so the trailer for his latest film, I’m Thinking of Ending Things (stylized with lowercase letters not reproduced here because this publication has editorial standards to uphold, by gum), has arrived not a moment too soon. His third feature as director, it appears to fit snugly into his compact canon of films charting the abstract interiors of the mind.
While the trailer leaves us in the dark regarding the plot – right where we belong – it does lay out the basic contours of the premise: Jake (Jesse Plemons) is bringing his girlfriend Cindy (Jessie Buckley) through a dense snowstorm to meet his parents Suzie and Dean (Toni Collette and David Thewlis), but there’s more to this little check-in than pleasantries and icebreakers. The planes of reality begin to peel all around them like so much old wallpaper, sending Cindy through a psychological gauntlet blurring the divide between herself and the world that surrounds her.
Things start off comprehensibly enough, but the clip’s final minute sprints through a series of beguiling, mysterious shots of old-timey cartoons, dancers in school hallways, and bizarre gurning. These flashes of surrealism, combined with the quips about heads being screwed onto heads and quantum physics getting confused with quantum psychics, suggest another unfettered Kaufman experience. (Even if he may be adapting a novel written by Iain Reid in 2016.)
Netflix will bring this intriguing whatsit to viewers worldwide on 4 September, which movie-minded readers may recognize as the day that Tenet will come to select theaters, and also the day that Disney will make their live-action Mulan remake available to stream online. So, choices to be made: wholesome family fun, big-budget popcorn entertainment, or a fantastical journey through the very nature of being itself. Ah, the movies!
I’m Thinking of Ending Things comes to Netflix in the UK and US on 4 September.
Published 6 Aug 2020
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