I lost my sense of self as my identity began to form around another person. I shape-shifted into a girl who likes playing video games all night, likes watching football, knows exactly what to say in every situation, and loves each and every one of their friends. This is a dilemma amplified in Charlie Kaufman’s “I’m Thinking Of Ending Things,” but what’s even more toxic in the film is our narrator is nothing but a construction of a lonely old man’s imagination. The Young Woman, played by Jessie Buckley, is not one woman, but an amalgamation of characteristics that this particular man finds (or has found) desirable in a partner. Despite being trapped in this mental prison, the Young Woman is able to find empowerment, revealing the fallacies of her creator’s shallow vision of what she could be.
As good partners are often expected to do, the Young Woman often agrees with Jake to placate him and make him happy. Yet, underneath her plastic smiles, she also reveals that she is thinking of ending their relationship. From the first moments of the film, her character is rooted in revolution and the desire to untangle herself from Jake. While this can be interpreted as Jake’s own inner dialogue about why women have left him, this film is also about the Young Woman becoming self-aware and realizing her role in this fantasy.
The Young Woman does not have one fixed identity as her names, outfits, and careers constantly shift. She’s Lucy, Louisa, Lucia, or Ames. Her identity is a swirling maelstrom that changes by the minute. Like the Young Woman, my interests, my music taste, and my style were often dictated by the boy I liked. I lost sight of who I was, feeling like a blank canvas that was constantly changing appearance in the name of what I thought was love. Neither my nor the Young Woman’s identities were ever stable. She even plainly states, “Jake needs to see me as someone who sees him,” a sentence that encapsulates the dangers of being a fantasy.