I’M THINKING OF ENDING THINGS*CUT TO THE CHASE*
NOTE: This spoiler was submitted by Alex
A young woman (Jessie Buckley) confesses in narration that she has been thinking of ending things with her boyfriend Jake (Jesse Plemons), who she has not been dating terribly long, maybe seven weeks. Very briefly, she sees an elderly janitor in a window who also thinks that he is thinking of ending things. They are headed on a trip together to visit his parents for the first time. They leave a town and begin driving into lots and lots of farmland. She admits that maybe it’s a bad idea to go meet his family when she doesn’t think the relationship is going anywhere, but she is curious where he comes from.
On the drive, Jake mentions some poems he loves that are written to a woman named Lucy – “like me”, the young woman notes. She then gets a phone call that is from a “Lucy”, which she declines. The young woman notes a brand new swing set in front of an abandoned house, which she finds strange. There is a lot of snow, which worries the young woman as she has a big scientific paper to write the next day. Interspersed with all of this are scenes of the janitor getting up and doing his daily routine, going to work at a high school.
Jake turns the radio to a station playing the musical “Oklahoma”, and Jake says he knows a lot of musicals, and that he sees the productions every year – this is intercut with the janitor watching the kids at the high school rehearsing their musical, almost as if Jake is the janitor and is describing his life experience. The young woman is now apparently a poet, not a scientist, and Jake asks her to recite a poem, which she does. They arrive at Jake’s parents’ home, where his mother (Toni Colette) and father (David Thewlis) live.
Despite the intense snow, Jake insists on giving the young woman a tour of the farm. On the grounds, they find the lambs dead and frozen solid, and the pen where all the pigs lived before they had to be put down after they had been eaten alive by maggots. The young woman at various times seems to say she lived in a farmhouse like Jake’s and at others in an apartment. The basement door is locked and has scratches all over it, which Jake says is from their dog Jimmy.
Jake’s parents meet the young woman and call her “Louisa”. At dinner, they talk about the young woman being a painter, not a poet. She gets missed calls from “Louisa” and shows the parents pictures of her work. The parents then ask her about her work in science – not painting. Jake ends up snapping violently at his mother. The mother asks how they met, and the young woman tells the story of how they met at a trivia night but the story has many inconsistencies.
After dinner, the young woman sees a photo of young her that she then sees as young Jake. Jake’s mother explains she has tinnitus, hearing a buzzing noise in her ear. The young woman gets a call from “Yvonne”, which she answers and hears a male voice saying he has one question to answer. Jake’s parents begin to suddenly seem older and Jake mentions that the young woman, “Lucia”, studies gerontology, or aging, when previously the science she had said she worked on was physics.
The young woman goes to Jake’s bedroom and finds a book, where she reads from it the poem she recited earlier. Also in the bedroom is a book on film criticism. Jake’s father comes and finds her, and he’s now elderly. She says she needs to leave because of the snow, and goes downstairs and finds Jake feeding his totally elderly mother. The young woman thinks she should end things. Jake tells his father that the young woman is a waitress and they met while she was serving him, in a scene reminiscent of a movie we saw the janitor watching earlier.
Jake’s mother then starts cleaning, now a younger woman. She asks the young woman to do some laundry in the basement, so she goes down despite Jake’s protests. In the laundry she finds only janitor uniforms. She also sees her paintings hanging that she showed before – they’re by a real artist, not her. “Louisa” calls, and she answers – the voice speaks and again asks for the answer. When she returns upstairs, Jake’s mother is on her deathbed, elderly. Jake decides it’s time for them to leave. Jake’s father, now younger, says bye.
Jake and the young woman drive away. He describes the evening and many of the things he says happened she has no memory of happening. In the car, they discuss a film and the woman begins speaking a literal film review. In the middle of a snow storm, they decide to stop for ice cream. Jake begins talking about the kids he sees at the school every day as they stop at the ice cream store. The high school girl employees laugh at Jake, except for one with a rash that the young woman seems to recognize. The girl with the rash likes the young woman, and tells her she’s scared and is scared for her as well.
In the car they suddenly feel it’s too cold for the ice cream. Jake stops to dump the ice cream at his old high school, despite the young woman’s protestations. The two get into a frustrated argument, but then begin making out in the car. Jake sense the janitor watching them, freaks out and gets out of the car as the young woman screams at him not to. Frustrated, she leaves the car and follows him, and in the trash outside sees hundreds of ice cream cups.
Inside the school, she gets lost and is found by the janitor, who she asks for help and tells that when she met Jake he was a creep and she didn’t want his attention and that was the extent of their interaction. He tells her she’s safe and she hugs him. She finds Jake, and two dancers act as them, and perform a ballet together. At the ballet, Jake and ballet woman are about to be married, a ballet janitor interrupts and steals the ballet woman away. The ballet Jake fights the ballet janitor and is stabbed and dies.
The janitor cleans it up and goes to his car, where he begins to have memories o Jake and his parents. He then sees an animated pig being eaten by maggots, who beckons him to follow him. The janitor gets out of his car, naked, and follows the pig. In an auditorium, Jake, now elderly, accepts an award. His parents and the young woman, also elderly, watch as he gives a speech. He then gives a performance of a song from Oklahoma to a standing ovation.
The next morning, the janitor’s car sits outside the school buried in snow. The implication is that the janitor was Jake all grown up, and he never had any girlfriend, it was just a fantasy he concocted of what he wished he could have had as he approached the end of his life.
A young woman (Jessie Buckley) and her boyfriend of six weeks Jake (Jesse Plemons) go on a trip to meet his parents for the first time. Intercut with these scenes are scenes of an elderly janitor working in a high school. Jake calls the young woman by multiple names, and at different times she has completely different careers and many things do not add up as the film becomes more and more surreal. They eventually leave town and end up at the high school, where the young woman tells the janitor she rejected Jake the night they met.
The janitor goes out to his car where he remembers Jake's life and parents, and leaves the car naked and enters the school where Jake wins an award and gives a show-stopping performance to applause. The next morning, the janitor's car is still at the school, buried under the snowstorm. Seemingly, the janitor was Jake all grown up, and he never had any girlfriend, it was just a fantasy he concocted of what he wished he could have had as he approached the end of his life.