Review 113: Synecdoche, New York (2008)
I’ve not seen any of the Charlie Kaufman films and decided to jump into Synecdoche, New York at the recommendation of a fellow movie-loving friend. In hindsight, I don’t think I should have chose to watch this film after the day I had as I found myself feeling very disconnected to it. I really enjoyed a lot about the film, but I was having a hard time knowing what I was seeing. This film feels like one you can’t just watch once (which isn’t an option for this challenge) and make a judgement that prompted a new rating of Inconclusive. I’ll talk about what I liked, and briefly on why I’m not quite sure how I feel about the film.
Synecdoche, New York summary
Caden Cotard (Phillip Seymour Hoffman) is a theatre director that is struggling with his work and the women in his life. He begins working on his magnum opus that has him building a life-size replica of New York City inside a warehouse.
This film features some great performances from Hoffman, Michelle Williams, Samantha Morton, and Tom Noonan. There are some really crazy moments and symbolism in this film. There is a house that’s on fire…for like…ever. Caden Cotard is frequently suffering from an illness and later isn’t. These surreal things keep happening and they are usually very intriguing. Unfortunately, most surreal movies that I’ve seen eventually peel back the curtain and let you see what’s really happening and I found myself so distracted trying to guess what the reveal would be that I think I missed elements of the film. I would have loved a reveal, but the film works without it. Except, my own mind prevented me from just enjoying the ride and started trying to see behind the surreal curtain.
My issues with Synecdoche
The main story also feels a little bit unclear. I’m not sure if that’s my fault here from trying to predict where the story was going or if it just muddy. To say it’s muddy doesn’t mean it’s bad, but maybe a nontraditional story. This film definitely does some very unique things and from what I’ve heard of Kaufman that’s right up his alley. However, this lack of clarity and knowledge of my selfmade distractions make it hard to give a final verdict.
This is a movie that after the challenge is over or maybe during my summer vacation I’ll watch at least one more time. I truly enjoyed moments of the film, but the feeling of uncertainty of my overall feeling is too strong to put it into any of the other categories. If you’ve seen this I’d love to hear your thoughts!