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Film club is thinking of ending things

Elliott Stein '23

Oct 7, 2022

Film Club's very first meeting of the year saw large student turnout, with a good number of new students and devoted leaders. The club is dedicated to watching and reviewing movies, so on September 24 the club met for the first time this year to watch I’m Thinking of Ending Things, directed by Charlie Kaufman.

The movie is a psychological thriller filled with twists and turns. By the end of the movie, the audience is left with a sense of awe and confusion. Kaufman never offers any sense of closure and has stated in many interviews that he never intends to, setting it up so everyone has a different interpretation of the film after watching it.

The audience follows three main characters, Isla, a middle aged woman, and her new boyfriend, Jake, as they go in the midst of a snow storm to meet Jake's parents who still live on his childhood farm. In between scenes of Jake and Isla going through Jake’s childhood home, the camera mirrors the story of a high school janitor as he gets into his car, drives to school, and watches a movie of a young couple played also by Jake and Isla.

During dinner with Jake’s parents, wrinkles in story begin to emerge shedding questions on how Isla and Jake met, how Jake’s dog has disappeared, and why Isla’s art suddenly begins appearing on the walls.

The most horrifying element comes in when time starts to warp. Jake’s mother and father age rapidly until eventually they are found lying on their death beds in just the span of a few minutes.

After departing from the confusing, eerie dinner, Jake and Isla decide to leave per Islas request. They stop for ice cream at a local stand. A young female worker covered in rashes warns Isla to leave as soon as possible. Isla is immediately shaken but after questioning Jake once, decides to forget about it.

The film slows as Jake takes them both to his old high school, where they encounter the janitor referenced earlier in the film. The movie suddenly turns into a sort of ballet. A different version of Jake and Isla dance through the high school’s freshly mopped halls to classical music in a passionate, romantic embrace. The janitor enters the scene in the gym attempting to fight off Jake in order to protect Isla, and the screen goes black as the janitor kills Jake.

The film leaves the audience confused, full of questions, and with a slight headache. By examining the details viewers could piece together multiple possible storylines, the most popular among the group that the janitor was actually Jake many, many years in the future. Jake (the janitor, in this scenario) suffered from schizophrenia and loneliness made up the romance to give him something to live for before he died.

The film was an interesting first watch for the club. It invited students to ponder and piece together their own storyline, starting many debates about Kaufman’s craft and his intentions.

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