Synecdoche, New York


A truly remarkable film.

It’s been a while since a movie has stuck with me like this one. I was concerned about it and went in with some trepidation.  Charlie Kaufman is, by now, legendary for his offbeat screenplays. And I was prepared for a good old-fashioned shark-jumping. How long can he keep up this quirkfest anyway without making us all sick? And he’s directing now? He’s never done that. This could be awful.


No. No no no no no. If you haven’t seen this, you need to. Really.  Not kidding here.  It is unmistakably a Charlie Kaufman script. Strange things happen. People are odd. There is a dream logic to the whole thing. And it’s an intensely convoluted and intellectual film. It’s also an intensely emotional film that explores the aging process, the artistic process and the processes of human interaction and non-interaction.

It would be difficult to “spoil” this film. It’s so loaded with words, images, concepts and surprises that no review could possibly give anything significant away without leaving plenty left to discover. But I find myself not even wanting to try.  If you had to sum it up, you could say it’s about a troubled playwright trying to create something “real” out of his life.   Whatever that means.  But that’s just the tip of the iceberg.  Go see for yourself.

The cast — including Philip Seymour Hoffman in the lead role, along with Catherine Keener, Dianne Wiest, Michelle Williams, Hope Davis, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Emily Watson and the incomparable Samantha Morton — is uniformly excellent.  (Talk about hitting the jackpot with female actors.)  I found myself completely absorbed in Hoffman’s tale and unwilling to let it go once it ended.  I need to see it again.  And probably again.  Although it’s entirely satisfying on first viewing, it will undoubtedly reveal more layers and details on repeat viewing. I can’t wait.

Seriously, this blew everything that was nominated for an Oscar last year out of the water.  No one will be watching “Frost/Nixon” or “Benjamin Button” ten years from now.  I’ll still be watching this.  And thinking about it.


2 Responses to “Synecdoche, New York”

  1. Kizz Says:

    I was so excited to see this in the theatre and somehow never made it. Then it trickled out of my brain. I don’t always love Kaufman, I feared he’d be like the Cohen Bros or John Irving for me but now my desire to check this out is rekindled. Thanks for that.

    I didn’t even watch Button the first time. Looked creepy.

  2. Moveable Beast Says:

    I also was transfixed by this movie. Kaufman literally seems to be creating an entire new genre of film for himself. Is there anyone else who even comes close to weaving together so many thoughts and concerns of modern existence into practically every one of his films? I re-watched Adaptation after Synecdoche and that is another one of his films worth at least 3 or 4 viewings. What other recent movies have you felt like re-watching even once?

    I keep hoping he will spur on lots of other directors to do films like his. Maybe that’s like asking for another Shakespeare. I wish him a long and productive life, if only so we can have more films like these. He’s clearly a genius.

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