How Netflix is selling the latest surreal dramady from an important filmmaker.
Based on the book of the same name by author Ian Reid, I’m Thinking of Ending Things has the basic premise of any other relationship comedy or drama. When a young woman (Jessie Buckley) accompanies her boyfriend Jake (Jesse Plemons) to visit his parents, she begins to question not only their relationship but also whether she ever really knew him at all, partly because of the unusual connection he has with his parents (Toni Collette and David Thewlis).
But because the movie comes from writer/director Charlie Kaufman, the execution on that premise is anything but ordinary. When the couple arrive in the remote area Jake’s parents live in, The Young Woman begins experiencing a number of strange events. Time moves out of order, strangers seem to hint at something strange about to happen and more. Making matters more difficult, a snowstorm has trapped them in town, meaning she has nowhere to go.
With a filmmaker like Kaufman who has a strong reputation based on his previous films, it’s no surprise Netflix has leaned into the quirkiness of the movie to sell it to the audience. A number of good reviews has earned it a solid 86 percent “Fresh” rating on Rotten Tomatoes.
The single poster for the film helps establish the visual tone of the film as well as the minimalist approach to character and story. The Young Woman is shown on her own in a heavy sweater, drinking a glass of wine at the dinner table in front of what can best be described as old-fashioned wallpaper and drapes. The cast’s names as well as Kaufman’s appear at the top, along with the title treatment which suspiciously italicized the “of”.
The first trailer (1.7 million views on YouTube) came out in early August, not long after Netflix picked the film up. Girlfriend is meeting Jake’s parents for the first time, but the trip there is filled with unusual happenings, including the odd behavior of those parents. On top of everything else, time seems to be moving in odd ways, giving Girlfriend glimpses of the future and alternate pasts as she keeps wondering what’s happening and why.
Online and Social
No website, but the movie did get some support on Netflix’s brand social media profiles.
Advertising and Promotions
Netflix acquired the film earlier this year, announcing in July that it would get a September release.
Media and Press
While it was mainly about other projects he had at the moment, an interview in late 2019 with Plemmons had him commenting on how Kaufman had adapted the novel and what it was like to work with the director. A first look still came out in July of 2020.
An interview with Kaufmann allowed the director to explain he’s not trying to just mess with people for the fun of it but instead provoke an emotional response and get them to think about what they’re watching.
One has to judge the marketing of a Charlie Kaufman movie on its own scale of sorts. His movies are unlike those coming from most any other filmmaker, and the campaigns have by and large matched that uniqueness. There’s simply no other way to sell them, and to not embrace the unusual nature of his style and structure would be to set the audience up for disappointment, either by making something look too mainstream for hardcare fans to be interested in or enticing casual moviegoers by misrepresenting what they’re about to sign up for.
So while there may not be a whole lot of clear details about who the characters are, what’s happening to them and other aspects of the film, that’s to be expected here and adds to the movie’s allure. Kaufman is known for pushing the boundaries of film and story, and this looks like no exception to that rule.