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How Does “I’m Thinking of Ending Things” Translate on Screen?

I’m Thinking of Ending Things | Photo by Kayli Thompson | The Wright State Guardian

“I’m Thinking of Ending Things” is a new psychological horror directed by Academy Award-winner Charlie Kaufman that is about a young woman on a road trip visiting her boyfriend’s parents for the first time. It was released on Netflix on Sept. 4 and has been met with some mixed reviews. 

Book to Movie Adaptation  

Adapted from a book by the same name written by Iain Reid, this interpretation of a surreal and disturbing road trip brings to life the musings of a woman who is thinking of ending things with her boyfriend.  

Fans of Kaufman, who is most well-known for “Endless Sunshine of the Spotless Mind,” are used to his hypnotic and captivating films, and if this book were to ever be adapted into a movie, there’s no one better to take the helm.  

On the surface, much of the story remains the same. There are full dialogues taken from the book word-for-word and many of the Easter eggs were included in the movie to help the audience piece together what’s going on. In both the movie and the book, you’re left on the edge between disturbed and down-right confused. Things are explained slowly, with little hints dropping here and there that won’t be fully explained until the very end.  

However, if you’re a fan of the book, you’ll know that several things were changed in the movie — most notably the ending. Kaufman definitely doesn’t hold the viewer’s hand and gives the audience even more subtle and not-so-subtle clues than the book that appear completely random.  

Book vs. Movie  

Many viewers wondered if you should read the book before watching the movie, and it’s difficult to say what would work for you. On one hand, the book is very short and if you decide to listen to the audiobook, it’s only about 5 hours.  

Regardless, I do think that viewers would get more from the story if they did read the book –either before or after watching the movie — because you get a deeper understanding of what the author’s original intent for the story should be.  

There were multiple things left out of the movie and things that were under-explained — particularly the ending. The movie only recently came out and already has dozens of videos on YouTube explaining what happened when the book simply does it better. 

There is no doubt that this movie will be talked about as one of Kaufman’s greatest — the performances by the talented cast members and bizarre dialogue will absolutely stick with viewers. But for fans of the book, this offers more of a “re-interpretation” of the same story and while you can appreciate the creative clues and stylistic choices, you might miss some of the original creepy scenes that made the book so memorable.  

“I’m Thinking of Ending Things” is available for streaming on Netflix now.