“I’m Thinking of Ending Things” and “Tenet” are two sides of the same coin. As you may have read in last week’s column, “Tenet” was a confusing mess from my point of view, lacking an essential intrigue that’s needed for me to want to revisit a film. “I’m Thinking of Ending Things” was probably more complex and certainly more of a challenging watch, but it was also mesmerizing and intriguing in the moment … and the next day … and the day after that.
So much of what made “I’m Thinking of Ending Things” such a unique viewing experience is that I had no real idea of what exactly was meant by what was happening. I knew that a lot of the dialogue and imagery was interesting, but the actual meaning behind it all seemed far away. But unlike with “Tenet,” it seemed like that further reflection would reveal something meaningful, and the process of doing so would be worth it.
Therein lies the key to all of what I’ve been trying to say the past two weeks. That is to say that the secrets of every film can conceivably be deciphered for the most part, but not every film earns the right to be explored that tirelessly. Not to mention, just knowing the rules of a movie’s world doesn’t necessarily mean you can explain the deeper meanings. With “I’m Thinking of Ending Things,” I feel like I want to know more about the rules of the film, but I also want to know what they mean. It’s certainly metaphorical, but it’s not so convoluted. In fact, the attention to detail, something I think is missing from most convoluted scripts, in “I’m Thinking of Ending Things” is part of what makes it so special.
From time to time, the film community is helpful in decoding a challenging movie like “I’m Thinking of Ending Things.” A second viewing is very helpful, but someone else’s viewing may be even more helpful. In the days that have followed my initial watch, I have sought out the opinions of trusted film people in order to realize a more well-rounded film. Again, there’s only so much a single set of eyes can take in. Getting to hear others talk about the film both reinforced and enlightened my view on the film. The insight of others often helps guide my own insight. Ironically, this very concept of thought nurturing is brought up in “I’m Thinking of Ending Things.” Whether it is critical of such a concept is up to the viewer to decide.
“I’m Thinking of Ending Things” is quirky and a little depressing from what I can tell. Still, it definitely stuck in my mind, challenging me to seek out answers from myself and from others. This is the right amount of demand a film and a filmmaker should ask of an audience. You shouldn’t have to devote your life to a film in order to understand it. Some healthy thought and reflection on what you’ve seen can do the job.
Sam Zavada is a copy editor with The Standard-Speaker in Hazleton. He previously served as the news clerk at The Standard-Speaker, working with the obituaries and the community and lifestyle pages. Sam’s work in print dates back to his time at King’s College, where he spent two years as the editor in chief of the school’s newspaper, The Crown. Earlier in his time with The Crown, he worked as a staff writer and the entertainment manager. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.