Greg's Farm - Greg Knows a Fishing Spot - Greg's Retreat - Greg's Roadtrip
Oil on Panel, 2023
40" (101.6cm) x 18" (45.7cm)
I'm Thinking of Ending Things, 2020, is a surrealist psychological thriller, although I feel that category is ill-fitting, written and directed by American screenwriter, Charlie Kaufman. In the film, a young woman named Lucy played wondrously by Jessie Buckley contemplates ending her relationship with her boyfriend, Jake played by Jesse Plemons - equally wondrous. Toni Collette and David Thewlis act as time shifting dream parents who instill much of the films discomfort with the perfect dashing of uncomfortable lengthy laughter, snide remarks, and elusive actions.
This is of course a lie, somewhat... spoilers.
Lucy lives within a dream, or maybe a nightmare by fault of the dreamer, wherein Lucy is as much a dream as her boyfriend's subtractive stock, the floral wallpaper, and unrelenting wintery storms. Everything is concocted by a suicidal Janitor regretful of his ill conceived approaches to a girl he was interested in only to be promptly rejected, perhaps not even registered as a person. And so, like any normal Janitor considering ending it all, he conjures a fantasy in which Lucy is taken to meet his kin on a long winter's drive, a story where it all worked out and nothing was mishandled.
But really, who's story is this?
Is it about an old man who wants to reorchestrate his shortcomings?
Is it about a young woman trapped in an uncomfortable situation for a weekend?
Is Lucy just a fantasy girl made of glued together wants and desires?
And despite watching it all through Lucy's eyes, is she even the protagonist of the film?
Or maybe, concretely, this is all in the old man's head.
However, it still leaves one wondering to the peculiarities of this maddening adventure.
Lucy, an entity created within the old man's noggin, is always perplexed by the situations she finds herself entangled within. She is confused by the web of the Janitor's imagination, confused by how confusing it all is, which implies that she is a real person. Not to say that she is a real person trapped within this dream, merely that she has her own opinions on the operations within this dream... which makes her a real person, her own character within the structure of this inobtrusive world. She is both, but also an entity outside of both, purposely muddled no differently than discussions of self termination, of subjectivity, of entropy in own's life or when considering another person's life within your own. Afterall, Lucy didn't even notice the old man yet he's made an entire world for her, the parents exist at different stages of remembrance and Jake eventually succumbs and ends all narratives involved. Odd intrusions of ice cream, a endlessly vibrating dog, the musical Oklahoma, magot infested pigs and ♫ Baby its cold outside ♫ all do their best to find coercion within the narrative, but by the film's fascination with entropy, there can be none. The endurance of this hysteria leaves one with pity for both Lucy and the Janitor, even if one is fully culpable in its creation.
Then again, it is a film.
Are both characters trapped regardless?
At some point in the film, Jake's father (David Thewlis) pesters Lucy about art, particularly realism vs abstraction, and when Lucy shows him her own artwork - a piece by the turn of the century American painter Ralph Albert Blakelock, we see more of his work later on in the basement. Much can be said to the merits and ideals of the romantic period in which these paintings were made in the context of this film, but as I think it is clear that analysis is feeble when paired aside all the other attempts to do so.
"How can a picture of a field be sad without a sad person looking sad in the field."
The father, decidedly against the romanticism of Lucy's (Blakelock's) paintings serves to leave her more perplexed and further cement the context of the Janitor's imagined fantasy as it is full of sad, wasting people, yet Blakelock's work returns again and again, almost mocking Lucy and perhaps pleading for us to agree.
Greg's a good guy, so I made him a good world.
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