“’Most people are other people. Their thoughts are someone else’s opinions, their lives a mimicry, their passions a quotation.’ That’s an Oscar Wilde quote.”
And that’s a Jessie Buckley quote, or at least a line spoken by the actress Jessie Buckley in Charlie Kaufman’s telescopically quotidian new film I’m Thinking of Ending Things, premiering on Netflix Friday. Jessie Buckley is playing, well, in the credits she is playing “The Young Woman” but in the film before the end credits she’s playing, well, other people. Both “Young” and “Woman” eventually become suspect enough that I come to doubt the “The” as well. Other seems assured enough.
It’s complicated. Tinged, you might say. That’s what Jesse Plemons character says. “Everything is tinged,” Jesse Plemons says. Jake says. His character’s name is Jake. The actor, like the actress, is named Jesse, give or take an I.
Our Jess(i)es are on a road trip. Every couple who lasts long enough to have one has one. A first. Also a last, since a first is always a last, as there is only one first. In that way a last is also a first, because it’s the first last. So Jake is taking his girlfriend, his friend who is also, probably, a girl, played by Jessie Buckley, on the road to his hometown to meet his parents (played with delectable rubber-faced menace slash delight by Toni Collette and Davis Thewlis). For the first and last time.
Who hasn’t done that? It’s perfectly normal. Like how saying something is “perfectly normal” immediately renders its normality suspect. Mugging faces, stage paint. We have all been through it. Unless we haven’t. But we all have. I went through it watching this movie, and so will you, if you watch this movie. See? That’s everybody. We’re the only people here, you and I.
But I have also gone through it in real life. I can’t speak for you. I have gone through it both ways – I have been taken home to see a hometown, and I have taken home to show my hometown. It is, as they say, a rite of passage. As they say. You know the gist – here is where I was born, here is where I died — it was only a short time for you, you took no notice. That is what Kim Novak says to Jimmy Stewart in Vertigo. But it’s what I mean, too.
You show your beloved the field where you played as a child. The swing-set where you broke something. There is where my grandmother lived, when she still lived, you say. (My grandmother is dead.) This is my high school. Was. I went there a long time ago, but it could have been yesterday. Doesn’t it feel that way sometimes? Sometimes you close your eyes and it’s yesterday, or sometimes you’re already dead and then you close your eyes.
Continue reading at MNPP…