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‘I’m Thinking of Ending Things’ and Good-Bad Editing

The art of the edit.

Charlie Kaufman’s latest film “I’m Thinking of Ending Things” was released on Netflix earlier this month and like many of Kaufman’s films, the movie takes us into a Kaufmanesque world of surrealist stylization that can be confusing to those who are unfamiliar with his work. The film, based off a novel of the same name, tells the story of a young woman that takes a road trip with her boyfriend to meet his parents. On the way, she has doubts about their relationship and thinks about “ending things.” The film is a psychological drama that balances on the line between fears and fantasy. Kaufman and editor Robert Frazen use the invisible art of editing to create an unsettling feeling that helps to execute this mood perfectly. 

Editing is oftentimes overlooked, but the art of editing holds much more power than we might think.  Good editors are usually distinguished by how well they can complement the story by the way they cut together a scene. Typically, “good editors” make invisible cuts, cuts so clean that viewers don’t notice it. Most films are edited to flow naturally with conversations and the tone of the film, but in Kaufman’s “I’m Thinking of Ending Things,” the use of intentional “bad editing” not only complements the bizarre story but also creates a sense of uneasiness in the viewer.

In Thomas Flight’s video about the good-bad editing of “I’m Thinking of Ending Things,” he explains how certain scenes utilize this method, and how they serve as a way to make the audience feel cramped in Kaufman’s world of surrealism. Check it out.

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