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About the Movie
From Charlie Kaufman, comes a visual and philosophic adventure, "Synecdoche, New York." As he did with his groundbreaking scripts for "Being John Malkovich", "Adaptation", and "Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind", Kaufman twists and subverts form and language as he delves into the mind of a man who, obsessed with his own mortality, sets out to construct a massive artistic enterprise that could give some meaning to his life. Theater director Caden Cotard (Philip Seymour Hoffman) is mounting a new play. His life catering to suburban blue-hairs at the local regional theater in Schenectady, New York is looking bleak. His wife Adele (Catherine Keener) has left him to pursue her painting in Berlin, taking their young daughter Olive with her. His therapist, Madeleine Gravis (Hope Davis), is better at plugging her best-seller than she is at counseling him. A new relationship with the alluringly candid Hazel (Samantha Morton) has prematurely run aground. And a mysterious condition is systematically shutting down each of his autonomic functions, one by one. Worried about the transience of his life, he leaves his home behind. He gathers an ensemble cast into a warehouse in New York City, hoping to create a work of brutal honesty. He directs them in a celebration of the mundane, instructing each to live out their constructed lives in a growing mock-up of the city outside. The years rapidly fold into each other, and Caden buries himself deeper into his masterpiece, but the textured tangle of real and theatrical relationships blurs the line between the world of the play and that of Caden's own deteriorating reality.
Rotten Tomatoes Movie Reviews
- Reviews Counted: 182
- Fresh: 125
- Rotten: 57
- Average Rating: 6.7/10
Top Critics' Reviews
Fresh: The power and tragedy of the love story, or hell, the life story of Caden Cotard will become a part of you, because it is your story, and his story is yours, and back and forth and so on and on because 'everyone's everyone'.
Fresh: Kaufman, who once dazzled us with his japester's invention, uses those same tools to do something else here. He leaves us reeling.
Fresh: This is a classic Kaufmanesque work: bold, bizarre and utterly baffling.
Rotten: Synecdoche, New York finally feels bitter, hollow and adolescent: like a gargantuan music video conceived for an emo band with a penchant for Pirandello.
I swear it will make you look differently at how you act, and how you want your life to turn out. It was beautiful, and inspiring, and sad, and funny and marvelous. Only a few times have I watched a movie, and thought it was real, this was one of those times. Hoffman was brilliant.
A film one is doubtful to be on the fence about
This was my runner-up for film of the year 2008. Kaufman echoes the beauty, absurdity and wonder of Felini's "8 1/2" . Most will consider it the epitomy of self-indulgence, while those patient enough will see something ravishingly original, vain, and disorienting. In a good way, of course.
Collapses under weight of epic insecurities...
Charlie Kaufman is a genius--that is something few can dispute. BEING JOHN MALKOVICH (and, to a lesser extent, HUMAN NATURE) set the stage for his bewildering look at life through the lenses of celebrity, obscurity, unobtainable love being--possibly, obtained, and a world wherein the most absurd things are the least labored over. ADAPTATION beautifully followed, spinning the same subjects and themes into a 'flowering' unfurling of writing and obsession--and, his most popular masterpiece, ETERNAL SUNSHINE...delivered on much the same ground, with unexpected heart and possibly the most fragile, fleeting view of love at first--and second sight, since CASABLANCA. With such soaring themes and manic machinations, Kaufman finally crash-lands with his directorial debut, SYNECDOCHE, NY -- a massively ambitious yet wholly unsatisfying 'play' on the terms of life and its inescapable transfer of disease--loneliness and failure being metaphor for health, when it is not portrayed literally, in graphic, unflinching detail. There is something so brilliant and utterly transcendent about SYNECDOCHE... that it deserves to be remembered, perhaps immortalized, on a pedestal of pathos and self-deteriorating loathing that even Woody Allen might be taken-aback by. Yet its entertainment value--significant even to the most difficult of his previous films--is nil, instead driving a very effective nail into the own lump of sadness that becomes the reflection of/upon life--long and suffering. This does not diminish the fabulous work by Phillip Seymour Hoffman and Samantha Morton (and many, many others--Michelle Williams is sublime, and Diane Wiest, in the film's most painfully devastating yet perhaps most emotionally potent final moments--is truly a revelation). The definitive 'movie- to-admire' not 'to love,' unless you can be enchanted by the final, brutal melancholy it buries in the pit of your stomach.
- Genre: Comedy
- Released: 2009
- © 2008 Kimmel Distribution, LLC. All Rights Reserved.