CAIRO – 7 December 2020: The story starts with a girl who embarks on a road trip with her boyfriend to visit his family. The opening scene of a lovely girl who seems enthusiastic about her journey and happy with the gentle snow falling does not last more than a few minutes before the real scenario of Charlie Kaufman reveals itself with its unsettling questions.
In a 2-hour-and-14-minute movie, Kaufman showed off his symbolic quotes and questions, asking ‘existential questions’ and enhancing them with disturbing changes in the characters' looks, thoughts performance, emotions and makeup.
The movie gives the audience many clues all along, to indicate that this is not a usual story about a girl and her boyfriend. What seems very chaotic at the beginning of the movie make sense at the end.
The movie depicts two story lines at the same time. The first is the road trip of the young woman [played by Jessie Buckley] and Jake [lead character, performed by Jesse Plemons]. The second is the janitor's story line, who you see doing very regular tasks as part of his daily routine, such as having breakfast, going to work, and having lunch while watching a movie.
A very interesting conversation takes place between Jake and the young girl, whose name changes from Lucy, to Louisa, to Lucia, to Ames [for Amy], you can’t really tell for sure what her name was, as Jake keeps calling her with a new one every time he talks to her. The conversation keeps going deeper, more sophisticated, and even more depressing.
The narrative part of the movie was done by two characters. The first was the young girl, who keeps telling herself that she is thinking of ending things, while taking the road trip with jake. “I’m thinking of ending things, what’s the point of carrying on like this,” says the girl, who is obviously getting bored of the relation and has been thinking of ending it for a while.
The second part is the questions and thoughts of the janitor who sends voice messages to the young girl.
Arriving at the farm house and meeting the parents was one confusing part, but at this point, you stop asking questions and just let yourself listen to what the film is trying to say.
Jake’s parents, played by Toni Collette and David Thewlis, do not seem normal. They appear in different ages at the same scene of the visit. The change leaves the viewer in awe searching for a meaning.
This comes along with a very exciting conversation about time between Jake and his girl who wonders, “Are we passing through time, or is time passing through us? Are we stationary as time flows and leaves us eventually frozen and dead?!”
The second stop was getting ‘Tulsey Town ice-cream’ in the middle of the snow. This whole scene is a reflection of Jake’s experience at school as a young student and as a janitor. He saw different generations during his life and was never popular.
However, as they found the ice-cream ‘too sweet’, Jake decides that he needs to get rid of it which leads us to the third stop, the school. But at this stage, the young girl is extremely annoyed and demands ending the trip, and going back to her home.
In the car, after jake leaves her to search for a place to dump the ice-cream, the young girl says, "I should have never have come.. I should have said no, but I said yes, we were raised to say yes, because yes is easier than no!"
So who is this girl really?
Well, many signs were indicating that the movie is all about Jake and his mind, the girl could be someone he once met, and could be completely one of his own thoughts which never existed in reality. But in both assumptions, she was bored of him and thinking of ending the relation.
In one of his interviews following the movie, Kaufman said that he likes letting everyone experience the movie as they want. He added that he will support anybody’s interpretation.
The girl was factionary. The poem she read to Jake as he was driving home, we found later in a book in his old room. Jake himself was recalling “going home is terrible” as he was driving to the farm house.
Every time she says: "I want to go home", he replies: "to the farm house?" because maybe it’s the only home jake ever knew.
In conclusion, Jake/the Janitor could be recalling his memories which included its own happiness and regrets. And maybe, this is what Jake wanted at some point of his life and never got, a life with a woman he loves, and ending things at some point, making changes and choosing differently in his life, but for some reason, he didn’t.
Now, has Charlie Kaufman made the film to confuse us, or to ask a very simple question that we have been avoiding for a long time?
Jake is just another normal guy, who upon his death, recalls all the moments in which he could’ve chosen differently in his life and have it all; but unfortunately he hasn't made that choice, despite knowing that “there is something ineffable, profoundly, unutterably, un-fixable wrong!”