So, fellow film buffs. We’ve covered all sorts of ground from traditional romantic comedies like ‘Pretty Woman’, and nostalgic masterpieces like ‘The Karate Kid’, (I would love to think that ‘The Karate Kid’ spin-off ‘Cobra-Kai’ was the second most popular watched series on Netflix last week in Malta due to my review, but in my heart of hearts I fear I know otherwise). And we have even sat through three-hour Norwegian dramas together such as ‘A Fortunate Man’, but this week I fear I may lose a few of you with my choice of film. Any comments on my Facebook page agreeing or disagreeing would be very welcome indeed, as I am most intrigued to find out what others think of Charlie Kaufman’s latest masterpiece.
If you have never seen a Charlie Kaufman film before, I may suggest browsing through his back catalogue and choosing one or two more watchable films before plunging straight in. Say, ‘Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind’, or ‘Being John Malkovich’, (in my opinion one of the top films of the nineteen nineties). But, that is only a suggestion. Feel free to dive right into the deep end. You may sink, you may dance underwater like a dolphin released from life-long captivity, who knows.
There is very little to say about this film, the premise being as simple as they come. A young student that has been seeing a rather dull man for around six weeks is on a road trip in a blizzard to meet his parents for the first time, with the voice in her head telling her “I’m thinking of ending things”, which at one point he appears to hear.
If you thought the journey there was claustrophobic, eery and tense, wait until they arrive at his childhood home. Stellar performances from the masters that are Toni Collette and David Thewlis as the parents, turn the strangeness volume up to ten. If you have seen any Kaufman films before, you will know not everything is as it appears, and time is a non-linear idea to be played around with like an artist chooses colour. Throughout the entire two hours fifteen minutes, I felt the same feeling one experiences as a roller-coaster rises slowly to the top, desperate with anticipation for the ‘big drop’. Yet so little actually appears to happen.
I think this is possibly the second time I have sat through a film, got through to the end, and loved it, but not known whether or not I actually ‘enjoyed’ it; if that makes any sense at all. Kaufman’s constant cultural references, his clever scripts, his ability to induce so much emotion with so little effort leaves me astonished every time. I am, as you can probably tell, a fan. I love the fact that in times like these where blockbuster movies and the money they bring in being the driving factor for so many films being made, people like Charlie Kaufman are somehow slipping through the net and making incredible films that are undefinable as fas as a genre may go.
If after reading this you are even remotely intrigued, but not sure this film may be for you, please find a copy of ‘Being John Malkovich’, and let that be your benchmark. Never before, (or since) has such a surreal film said so much about celebrity and ego. And if that does not do it for you, try ‘Adaptation’ with the sublime Meryl Streep. Or even the extravaganza that is ‘Synecdoche, New York’ with Philip Seymour Hoffman in undoubtedly one of his finest roles. I’m Thinking of Ending Things’ may not be the film for you, but if after reading this review you dip your toes into the Kaufman river, and find a spot you like, I could not be a happier fellow.
God Save the Queen. Lord bless you all. Same time next week fellow film lovers.