The first trailer has arrived for I’m Thinking of Ending Things, a new Netflix feature film based on the acclaimed 2016 debut novel from Iain Reid. The film is directed by Charlie Kaufman, who also wrote the screenplay, and while the book it’s based on loosely falls under the ever-expanding umbrella of current horror fiction, the new teaser is squarely in the wheelhouse of the man who brought us Being John Malkovich and Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, among others.
Here’s the trailer:
Jessie Buckley (Wild Rose) stars as a young woman who is, as the title states, debating whether to end her relationship with her boyfriend, played by Jesse Plemons (The Irishman), even as she agrees to go on a road trip with him to meet his parents (David Thewlis and Toni Collette) at their family farm. Once there and trapped by a snowstorm, strange occurrences lead the woman to question the people she’s with, the world around her, and her own sanity.
Kaufman first broke out with Being John Malkovich (1999), an acidic, surreal, and eventually Oscar-nominated screenplay that was directed by Spike Jonze. Since then he’s written and directed a series of reality-bending films that frequently tear jagged holes in our perception of the human condition while also offering a strange kind of compassion for his often confused and spiritually lost characters.
In addition to Malkovich and 2004’s Eternal Sunshine–not just one of that decade’s best science fiction offerings, but one of its best films, period–Kaufman has also written the screenplays for 2001’s Human Nature (his first collaboration with director Michel Gondry, which they followed with Eternal Sunshine), 2002’s super-meta Adaptation. (directed by Jonze), and that same year’s Confessions of a Dangerous Mind (directed by George Clooney).
Kaufman began directing himself in 2008, starting with his strange, dark Synedoche, New York and followed in 2015 by the stop-motion film Anomalisa (co-directed with Duke Johnson). I’m Thinking of Ending Things is his third directorial outing and first with Netflix, which continues to add to its roster of top-tier filmmakers.
Reid’s book was voted one of the best of 2016 by NPR and was a finalist for the prestigious Shirley Jackson Award, which is given for outstanding achievements in horror, suspense, and dark psychological fiction. But even the author wasn’t sure it could be adapted to the screen.
“When the book first came out, my literary agent was in touch with a film agent,” says Reid in the film’s production notes. “Deep down, I didn’t expect anything to come of it. It’s a fairly philosophical, personal literary story, and seemed to me a challenge to adapt to film.”
As it turned out, Reid says he had nothing to fear from Kaufman’s adaptation: “I read the screenplay in one sitting,” he recalls. “I thought it was brilliant and unlike anything I had ever read, so I immediately read it again and was excited the whole time. It felt like a distinct piece of work. I think the book is the book, and the film is the film. I love what Charlie’s done with it, and where he’s taken it.” (Kaufman recently released his own debut novel, titled Antkind.)
Netflix will stream I’m Thinking of Ending Things worldwide on Sept. 4.