‘I’m Thinking of Ending Things’ Explained

Could this movie have more to it than what meets the eye?

The final shot of the film when Jake's truck is buried under snow is just one of the many artistic choices made in this film to capture the emotional state of the main character who is suffering from depression.

Photo by Screenshot from the film

The final shot of the film when Jake's truck is buried under snow is just one of the many artistic choices made in this film to capture the emotional state of the main character who is suffering from depression.

****Disclaimer: The movie includes heavy themes about suicide. If you feel this could be a  trigger for yourself or someone you love, please be advised before watching or reading this commentary****** 

Based on Iain Reid’s debut novel, director Charlie Kaufman’s “I’m Thinking of Ending Things” follows Lucy (who is considering breaking up with her boyfriend, Jake) who goes on a road trip through a blizzard to visit his parents for dinner at their family farm.  

However, the movie summed up in a simple sentence like that just doesn’t do it justice. Within the movie, it often cuts to a custodian seen either getting ready for his job or cleaning the school where he works work which, to many viewers, seems out of place in the film. I’d admit, this movie is definitely not for a casual viewing.

First, the overall atmosphere of this film gives of an eerie and nostalgic feeling. And, as you continue watching, you begin to realize this movie is not what you think it is.  

Some of the symbolism in Reid’s novel is translated to this adaptation and, when analyzed, it reveals the true theme of this film. 

You come to realize that Lucy is not a real character but, rather  a manifestation of all the desires for his own life Jake had wished for himself. A poignant quote from Lucy says, Whether you have a wife, or a wife-shaped loneliness waiting for you, coming home is terribly lonely.” 

As you continue it starts to become clear that Jake is the custodian years later. The real-life Jake has a job he is not passionate about, no wife or family, and not really living his life as he is struggling with ongoing mental health issues.  

This movie’s main plot is ultimately about Jake contemplating suicide and the ‘what if’ scenarios that his mind turns over causing such feelings of depression. An example is when Lucy and Jake tour the farm to see an empty pig pen, where Jake informs Lucy that there was a pig but their family hadn’t realize that the pigs were being eaten alive by maggots in the pen; another symbol for the effects of depression. 

Along with that, Lucy constantly receives calls from random people, which most of the time she ignores. This can serve to symbolize the people in Jake’s life trying to reach out to him, yet he continuously chooses to push them away as things get worse in his depression. 

In my opinion, this film has a very detail-oriented quality to it, almost like a movie you could watch repeatedly and find new specifics that help contribute to the message.  

With September being Suicide awareness Month, this movie serves as hope, that to live life without regrets and ‘what if’s’ no matter how dark and stormy the road ahead gets.