A psychologically troubled novelty supplier is nudged towards a romance with an English woman, all the while being extorted by a phone-sex line run by a crooked mattress salesman, and purchasing stunning amounts of pudding.
Paul Thomas Anderson
Philip Seymour Hoffman
In 1959, Truman Capote learns of the murder of a Kansas family and decides to write a book about the case. While researching for his novel In Cold Blood, Capote forms a relationship with one of the killers, Perry Smith, who is on death row.
Philip Seymour Hoffman,
Clifton Collins Jr.,
Theater director Caden Cotard is mounting a new play. Fresh off of a successful production of Death of a Salesman, he has traded in the suburban blue-hairs and regional theater of Schenectady for the cultured audiences and bright footlights of Broadway. Armed with a MacArthur grant and determined to create a piece of brutal realism and honesty, something into which he can put his whole self, he gathers an ensemble cast into a warehouse in Manhattan's theater district. He directs them in a celebration of the mundane, instructing each to live out their constructed lives in a small mock-up of the city outside. As the city inside the warehouse grows, Caden's own life veers wildly off the tracks. The shadow of his ex-wife Adele, a celebrated painter who left him years ago for Germany's art scene, sneers at him from every corner. Somewhere in Berlin, his daughter Olive is growing up under the questionable guidance of Adele's friend, Maria. He's helplessly driving his marriage to actress ... Written by
Merriam-Webster's Online Dictionary defines "synecdoche" as: "a figure of speech by which a part is put for the whole (as fifty sail for fifty ships), the whole for a part (as society for high society), the species for the genus (as cutthroat for assassin), the genus for the species (as a creature for a man), or the name of the material for the thing made (as boards for stage)." See more »
In the scene where Caden is talking to Hazel directly after having talked to the doctor after his seizure, there is a dog in a box behind Hazel in her box office. Upon cutting to Caden, and then cutting back, the dog is gone. This is the remnants of the character "Squishy", from the original draft of the script. The almost-dead dog was found by Hazel after driving home from the premiere. She was saddened by Caden denying her, and she finds the dog, run over and bloody on the side of the road. She decides to keep it. This is the only scene where he is present, and his presence is not explained. See more »
Self indulgent piece made for the satisfaction of the film maker rather than the audience
This is the film that the Charlie Kaufman from Adaptation wanted to write.
In Adaptation he tries to tell his agent, "I don't want to cram in sex or guns or car chases, or characters you know, learning profound life lessons or growing or coming to like each other or overcoming obstacles to succeed in the end. I mean the book isn't like that, and life isn't like that. You know, it just isn't. And I feel very strongly about this." In addition, about 40 minutes into Adaptation, Charlie Kaufman's character describes himself as self-indulgent, narcissistic, solipsistic and pathetic because he's written himself into his screenplay. It seems like Caden is just him again inside his own screenplay but unlike Adaptation this one has no change or drama or story and people do not succeed in the end.
While in Adaptation he gave in to McKee and his twin brother Donald, it seems in Synecdoche he's decided to instead make a work of art his way, period. On principle I agree with this decision but feel he took it too far. There's a point at which you can overdo it.
WHY I DIDN'T LIKE IT:
At first, it's easy to get caught up in the puzzles embedded in Synecodche. Why is the house on fire? Who's writing in the girls' diary? What's the deal with the therapist? You might get the impression that beneath these puzzles, Kaufman is hiding some deep truth. Unfortunately, there's nothing there, and the puzzles are simply distractions.
As Kaufman is committed to expressing his own point of view he is therefore unwilling to let the actors express theirs. Like Caden, Kaufman is off in his own head, obsessing over his thoughts without paying attention to the world outside. It seemed like one meaningless scene after meaningless scene. If that was the point then fine, but that is about as entertaining as a movie about the glory of watching paint dry.
WHO MAY ENJOY IT:
There was one theme that stuck out of the whole film that made me feel like this piece was made for the cynics and for those who agree with the sentiments of the main character. Perhaps because I do not fall into that category I did not form a bond with Synecdoche.
Examples of this are when Caden is explaining his vision to the actors and says, "What was once before you - an exciting, mysterious future - is now behind you. Lived; understood; disappointing. You realize you are not special. You have struggled into existence, and are now slipping silently out of it. This is everyone's experience. Every single one. The specifics hardly matter. Everyone's everyone."
The other was said by the wife to Caden, when under her breath she muttered something like, "the more you get to know people the more disappointed you are".
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