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
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
Dianne Wiest appears after an hour and twenty minutes into the film. Even then, she gets only ten minutes of screen time, despite prominent billing. See more »
When Caden and Hazel are talking about Hazel's relationship with Sammy, in the background, the actress Tammy lights a cigarette. Seconds later, when the scene is shown from a different angle, again Tammy lights the cigarette. See more »
"All the world's a stage, And all the men and women merely players . . ."
Synecdoche, New York, like the literary term in its title, might stand for all our lives as director Caden Cotard (Phillip Seymour Hoffman) attempts a gigantic stage construction of to depict his tumultuous life. Hamlet 2 it is notit's a serious attempt by cerebral and creative writer Charlie Kaufman to deal with the muses and mistakes of a life worth noticing, in this case where Caden has won a MacArthur.
Caden eventually creates a discursive and massive stage play peopled by ex lovers who help him try to gain meaning out of a sometimes bleak Brecht or Beckett landscape. Kaufman takes us into and out of time and place, characters and ideas, so that to survive the viewing, we must allow him to digress and symbolize to distraction. The recurring motif of a house on the brink of burning down signifies the nearness of insanity and even death.
The specter of Death overshadows all else and serves as a catalyst for the artist's grand opus. It also allows him to muse on the meaning of life and the challenges of art, the former leaning toward a pantheistic notion that we are all made up of the people we have loved. Shakespeare's notion of the world as stage is more appropriate here than ever.
Artistically Kaufman is more in David Lynch land than anywhere else; I'm comfortable with that although the producers should not wait for the profits to roll in anytime soonit's a challenging mess.
Caden Cotard: "I know how to do it now. There are nearly thirteen million people in the world. None of those people is an extra. They're all the leads of their own stories. They have to be given their due."
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