Ottawa

Netflix now streaming film based on Kingston author's novel

I'm Thinking of Ending Things, based on the novel by Iain Reid, arrived on the streaming service last week. It was directed by Oscar-winning screenwriter Charlie Kaufman and stars Jessie Buckley, Jesse Plemons, Toni Collette and David Thewlis.

Iain Reid's debut novel I'm Thinking of Ending Things adapted by Charlie Kaufman

In normal times, Kingston, Ont., author Iain Reid would be suiting up for premieres and press junkets to promote the new Hollywood film based on his first novel.

But these are pandemic times, so the Ottawa-born writer instead watched I'm Thinking of Ending Things for the first time on his bed with a bowl of popcorn.

"It kind of felt like everything came full circle because I wrote most of the book there," Reid told CBC's Ottawa Morning

The movie I'm Thinking of Ending Things premiered Sept. 4 and is now available for streaming on Netflix. It was directed and written by Charlie Kaufman and stars Jessie Buckley, Jesse Plemons, Toni Collette and David Thewlis.

Reid's 2016 thriller centres upon a young couple who head off on a road trip to visit the farm where the boyfriend's parents live. 

"She has never met his parents before and she's having some doubts. Doubts have started in her mind, about ending their relationship," says Reid. "So she's feeling kind of a mix of emotions."

Once they get to the farm, and she meets his parents, things get, well, odd. 

Iain Reid is an Ottawa-born writer and winner of the 2015 RBC Taylor Emerging Writer Award. He now lives in Kingston. (Rob Whelan)

A stroke of luck 

Reid said he had long conversations with Kaufman —  who won the Oscar for best original screenplay in 2005 for Eternal Sunshine of a Spotless Mind and also wrote the 1999 cult classic Being John Malkovich — and wanted to give him the artistic space to make the story his.

After all, Reid said they both share a love of dream-like storytelling and playing with the irrational.

"The novel and the movie, I think, stand alone [although] they have this connection, this link obviously," Reid said.

"I'm really glad Charlie felt the freedom, and I really wanted him to feel the freedom, to just take the novel and do whatever he wanted with it."

It was somewhat a matter of chance, however, that connected the two.

While Reid had a book agent and film agent, it wasn't through the industry that I'm Thinking Of Ending Things ended up on Kaufman's bookshelf.

Author Iain Reid has a number of books under his belt. One of them has been adapted into a film. Iain Reid joins us to talk about what it was like to watch Hollywood director Charlie Kaufman turn his book into a movie. 9:06

Amazon had actually suggested Kaufman buy the book based on his previous purchases, said Reid.

"So I feel I owe a debt of gratitude to the algorithm."

Shortly thereafter, the two had a long conversation about film and decided to work together.

"It feels like a stroke of luck right now, especially when I look back on it," said Reid, a long-time fan of Kaufman's. "I don't think I want anybody else to make this movie."

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