Synecdoche, New York

A theater director struggles with his work, and the women in his life, as he attempts to create a life-size replica of New York inside a warehouse as part of his new play.

IMDb [7.2/10]

RottenTomatoes [68%, 61%]

Writer/director Charlie Kaufman is a man with a very specific and recognizable style of movies. Mostly, that style is you have no idea what his movies are about and need to watch them at least twelve times to come to a conclusion that you think could be legitimate. His other three films that he has both written and directed are Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, Being John Malkovich, and Adaptation.. They all deal with different types of plays on reality and self, and are all very unique and extremely intriguing. I have really enjoyed all of these previous works. But after seeing Synecdoche, New York, my idea of the Kaufman style has been brought to a whole new level.

Phillip Seymour Hoffman plays Caden Cotard, the theater director mention in the summary above. I will not go into any more detail of the story, not because I don’t want to spoil it, but because I have literally no idea how I would go about explaining what I just watched. The gap between watching a movie and knowing what I’m going to write in my review is usually only a few minutes, if not instantly. This movie set a new personal record, for it has taken me a long time to try and put into words what I think this movie was about or what it was meant to do. I still don’t really know. But regardless, I will try.

The beginning of the movie is pretty straightforward and normal. It seems like a story about a director struggling with different areas of life like much of us do. About twenty minutes into the film, however, things get weird. The film skips ahead and random intervals, and Hoffman’s character is not even always aware that they have happened. Throughout the course of the film, the main character has different health issues and makes certain decisions that lead you to ask a lot of questions. There is not a lot of firm ground to stand on in this film. It is an incredibly strange and mysterious presentation of a story, although intriguing, but I think that it was way over my head. I think with more viewings I might be able to make more connections with the story, because as Kaufman has done a lot in previous work, this film uses a lot of ideas and facts in the film to later define itself. It is hard to explain, and even harder to notice it while you are watching.

The whole production is very similar to his previous films, but this was farther above me than any of those others have ever been. I was confused and lost for a lot of the film, and that lead to an exponential growth of more confusion and a growing distaste for the film.

But when the end drew near, the film slowed down a little and did some sort of drawing together of everything. Now, despite not really knowing what the hell was going on, this part was actually really great. It was inspiring and just lovely. The final scene of the film drops you off at a place that you expected at one point, but changed as the end came closer.

My Rating

 3/4 – Despite only really knowing what was happening about a third of the time, Synecdoche, New York leaves you with an incredible amount to think about, in regards to both the film you just watched and your life from here on out.


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