I can’t tell you the last time I had a reading session that long and intense. Iain Reid’s I’m Thinking of Ending Things has been adapted by the incomparable Charlie Kaufman, set to release on Netflix within the first quarter of 2020, or so they say. To synopsize the book, I will say that the novel is about a couple on their way to have dinner with the boyfriend’s daughter. It’s a big step in the relationship, which makes the girlfriend narrator all the more apprehensive on account of her wanting to, well, end things with the boyfriend. It’s weird to write an opinion about a written work, for me at least. Using the very medium to critique a work of said medium is a bit meta, but here we go.
I love this book. The narrative voice of Reid is instantly accessible and engaging, especially with the content of the narration. It’s dark, unsettling, hopelessly existential but always bound within real world constraints. There are no monsters around the corner, or access to a holy book with a verse that’ll wash away the danger. Most of the danger we experience is the ones we internally encounter, hardly the ones that are imminently physical. Reid, and his characters, know this to an unsettling degree.
I am super eager to see how Kaufman adapts this story. The themes of the book mirror those that define his entire filmography. This will be his third directorial effort after the stellar Synecdoche, New York and tragically romantic Anomalisa. This will also be his first adaptation (not to be confused with the film he wrote Adaptation), which will be an intriguing reversal given Kaufman’s much discussed turbulent history with directors doing a less than faithful translation of his script to screen.
In any event, this is a mesmerizing and unsettling literary work. It’s more than worth the sleep you’re bound to lose.