I’m Thinking of Ending Things: the Human Emotions

The Spectacle of Human Emotions

Charlie Kaufman’s I’m Thinking of Ending Things is indeed a complex movie about human emotions. However, it is a spectacle rooted in the most human emotions of every human being. So, the film can be the closest confidant to talk about time, love, and existence, the things humans fear the most. Therefore, if the audience is thinking of ending watching the film, it is not. Audiences may be bored listening to endless conversations or confused about reading poetry. Initially, the film was a story about a girl wanting to end her lousy relationship. The audience hears her inner voice narrating how she and her boyfriend, Jake, are not as attractive as they used to be. She feels that their relationship is still long. Though, it is still relatively new.

She was so bored with her relationship that she wanted to end it all. After the last and first trip, Jake took her to meet Jake’s parents. The audience watched as their journey started from driving in the car as it started to snow outside. Audiences also hear their talk about classics, existence, about anything. Strange things began to happen when they arrived at Jake’s parents’ house. The film becomes surreal when Jake’s mother and father sometimes appear old, young, and old again. The film is increasingly cutting back on an old janitor. He was alone in the school building watching the sequence of, literally, the movie.

The Uncertainty of the Film’s Understanding

In I’m Thinking of Ending Things, human emotions are dreams with many changing but uncertain things. The janitor appears sporadically in two-thirds of the story, the most constant of which is when Jake appears to have a fluctuating attitude. While both Jake’s parents seem to jump through periods every time they show up, the janitor remains at school alone. Other characters also call the main character by a different name. At one point, the janitor finished watching a romance-fiction film by Robert Zemeckis about a waitress.

In the next scene, there is a dinner scene at Jake’s family house afterward, and the audience finds out that the female character works as a waitress. In another moment, the janitor accidentally overhears the conversation of two other characters in the next scene. When the janitor sees and hears everything, it affects the events the main character and Jake experience. The film opens a new understanding to the audience when not only to see outside.

“I’m Thinking of Committing Suicide”

To understand the film as a whole, audiences and readers need to know the most significant clue, namely the title. “I’m thinking of ending things” is repeated by the female protagonist, Jake’s girlfriend. At first, most people think it is about breaking up with her new boyfriend while on the way to meet his parents, which is noticeable and accurate. However, it is about an expression of suicide from the inside of Jake’s actual head. At the end of the story, it becomes clear if the book’s title and film are valid.

Jake is the ideal character of his younger self, and the woman is a fantasy version of a person he has ever met. He is the guardian of the mind, afflicted with mental health problems exacerbated by a lifetime of extreme loneliness. Apart from spending novels and movies daydreaming about scenarios, Jake thinks he can change his life and make him a happier path. However, Reid, the author of the same name, describes Jake in a more complex way where the point of view keeps changing from first person to third person.

The Loneliness and Regret

The appearance of the film is horror, for such moments. It is because it is so surreal, random, and unsettling. However, I’m Thinking of Ending Things is a thriller film about human emotions in terms of functionality. It is a psychological thriller because it haunts the audience’s psyche with comments about loneliness and regret. The film is exactly like the image of a female character when describing the landscape painting she made. Apart from the audience not seeing directly, some people are sorry and sad.

While the image conveys all feelings, Kaufman puts the audience on a dive right into the pictures to feel for it. Little by little, the snow was storming in the night. The streets were nearly empty, a sign of Jake’s feelings or the janitor crying for help. He voiced a sense of sadness, cold yet dark. The janitor is a closeness of the audience, or humans who did not watch the film, in representing every human being.

The Same Person

Apart from being an observer, the janitor has been paying attention to many people. In addition to watching movies, he sees students growing and taking turns at school. He also heard a lot, saw a lot, but no one paid attention to him. When the story begins at Jake’s house, Kaufman brings the audience to Jake’s childhood room. There is a collection of books and films as well.

In Jake’s house’s “forbidden” basement, there are clothes with the same logo on the janitor’s uniform in the washing machine. It is an undeniable common thread of what seems to be two separate narratives. Jake is not a man with a head full of literature and film knowledge. However, he is the janitor, years amid a maelstrom of diverse students with their experiences and stories. He is just the same person.

The Psyche of Jake

By imagining what psyche Jake looks like, people honestly watch many movies and read books. Most likely, we often pay attention to other people’s behavior in person or on the internet. Everything we read or observe easily becomes part of our imagination or stories we compose ourselves. I’m Thinking of Ending Things is a figment of human emotions by Jake as the janitor. He had seen too much so that he could create stories about his life the way he wanted.

The scene with his parents shows the figure changing age. He tries to imagine them in different timelines. Indeed, and personally, humans must have felt sorry for making a wrong step in life. We keep wondering what if we received it or what if it was this or that time. In Jake’s case, it is necessary to question how someone as broad-minded as Jake could end up being a janitor. It is a place where the original protagonist regrets.

The Woman Under the Influence

At the end of the film, the audience gets a reveal that approximates the truth of Jake’s relationship with the young woman. While talking to the janitor in the school hallways, the lady’s friendly demeanor hardens as old Jake listens to her describe her worst fears about what the woman is thinking. It is entirely foreign. He was a creeper for the woman. In the book, Jake is a socially awkward young man and rarely leaves the house. He meets a young woman during a trivia game at a bar. She smiles at him but does not dare to give him his phone number. Would it make any difference if she had his number? Was that the question in Jake’s head during the last minutes of his life? For Jake, it is impossible and unimportant for the future.

Jake, the janitor, has created a fantasy girl, mainly consisting of the books he reads and movies he watches. He knew very little about the young woman, something she had not known years ago. However, the woman keeps changing throughout the film while trying out different versions of her. Since hoping to land on an arrangement where all the lines work, it is at one point. That is why one minute, she is a physicist.

Furthermore, she is a poet. She has written a poem in the book Rotten Perfect Mouth by Eva H. D., the exact text in Jake’s childhood bedroom. On the long way to Jake’s house, the young woman suddenly smokes, in Jake’s mind not only dating cute women but contradicting intellectually cute.

The Phase of Regret

Regret can haunt the life of every human being in various ways. Besides being able to regret actions or regret every decision, guilt can also come from confinement. Apart from the opportunity not to take, humans regret the part in life, but it is over. Finally, regret comes very bitterly when the taste of the world is not as beautiful as humans always imagine. Carrying these kinds of regrets will make life miserable, just like Jake had.

From the events in the film, Jake’s essay about how his life should be, the audience can conclude that Jake regrets never having the courage to have a girlfriend. He regrets not making his parents happy, regrets failing career-wise, and the world ignores him. Jake lives wallowing in guilt. Instead of improving life, he makes up stories in his head on snowy, narrow streets but gets nowhere.

Oklahoma!

Despite Oklahoma!, a broadway, being quite a pop culture moment in various American mediums, the use of broadway in the film is pure. It is also not in the book at all. However, Oklahoma!‘s inclusion in describing Jake’s overall psychology makes sense even at a superficial level. As the janitor watched students practice Oklahoma!, he began to drift into a daydream. One of the songs is about a romance between a handsome boy and a dashing farmer girl. The song is about false optimism. In the final act, the film takes a complicated turn to Oklahoma!, beginning with a dream ballet sequence in a school hallway. Jake plays his younger self as Curly in Jake’s mind. On the other hand, the young lady plays Laurey. Just like he did in Oklahoma!, the musical evil farmhand begins to enter the realm of Jake’s romantic fantasy.

The role is an older version of Jake or janitor. At this point, Jake had to consider the notion of reality; he is not currying from the story whatsoever. He is not the most handsome man but the antagonist who is evil, lonely, and frustrated. In the film’s conclusion, Jake, with old makeup, stands on the school theater stage with the broadway in his back. His mother with him on the scene. The crowd of teens all in old-fashioned stage makeup comes to hear Jake’s one last fantasy speech before he dies. Jake takes his place in Jud’s lonely little sad hut, decorated with Jake’s original room items. After such, he sings Lonely Room, an Oklahoma! stage version of Jake’s fantasy of getting the young woman. Tragically, Jake lived a life of about, despair, and depression at the end.

The Multiple Views

The final image of the film is a janitor and his car encrusted with snow. Jake died in the middle of the night in front of the school. It is both beautiful and tragic for a story about a man who faced life’s failures when he left his body. Kaufman does not think that I’m Thinking of Ending Things hides many things, especially about human emotions in the audience. However, it becomes a picture of personal conflict that people have seen in all mediums.

The contemplation of the character blooms into a surreal fantasy that does not wipe away but is so strong that it sends the audience into a cold feeling of sadness. Like Synecdoche, New York, the film requires multiple views to appreciate it fully. Both films are undeniably complex in symbolism, and the final act is more accurate than most would expect. However, it is also one that works based on human emotions. Identity, aging, connection, love, and existence are the realms of Kaufman’s films.

Bibliography

About the author

Salman Al Farisi is the owner of Calxylian and is an elitist who has enjoyed and studied various mediums. He earned his Bachelor of Arts in 2020 from the Haluoleo University, Indonesia, where he studied English Literature, Film Criticism, Cultural Studies, Literary Theory, and Literary Criticism. He lives in Kendari in his mom's basement, now unemployed and ghostwriter, life with his cats, and is looking for the future.

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