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Synecdoche, New York (2008)

April 16, 2009

Charlie Kaufman, long time film writer and partner in crime with Michel Gondry and other cool cats, makes his directorial debut with this film and jeez, what a head fuck. He also wrote it by the way and it’s far more abstract and hard to follow than any of his already confusing back catalogue. Cadan is a playwright who, shortly after his wife and child leave him, receives a grant to allow him to produce a play that is artistically grand and true to himself. Also Caden seems to be sick, possibly, maybe he’s not or maybe he’s already dead (who knows?). Maybe it is all a  dream as we follow him and his epic production along with the women in his life and how they have affected him. It’s a confusing maze of life but a strangely surreal and for the most part, entertaining film.

Phillip Seymour Hoffman plays the lead and as usual, he is pretty damn good. Funny at times while sympathetic and miserable at others. All the other characters just seem to move in and out of focus and are hard to understand as we see them from Caden’s distorted view. Kaufman seems not to care for a chronological story and after about the first twenty minutes everything turns dreamlike and surreal. Visually it is brilliantly ambitious, with the replica of New York used in Caden’s play being quite magnificent and a unique character in its own right. I was thoroughly confused for much of the film and just when I was starting to get things something else would happen that would leave me scratching my head. Although last half hour is exceptionally crafted with a strong narrative and a real sense of closure. I’m wondering if I would have enjoyed this more if it were a bit more linear or if maybe I only liked it because it was strange, weird and wonderful.


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