Georges and Anne are an octogenarian couple. They are cultivated, retired music teachers. Their daughter, also a musician, lives in Britain with her family. One day, Anne has a stroke, and the couple's bond of love is severely tested.
A teacher lives a lonely life, all the while struggling over his son's custody. His life slowly gets better as he finds love and receives good news from his son, but his new luck is about to be brutally shattered by an innocent little lie.
Thomas Bo Larsen,
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 mockup 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
The article that Caden reads while in the doctor's waiting room, about his wife, is titled: "It's Good To Be Adele". The intro paragraph reads: "Six months ago, Adele was an under-appreciated housewife in Eastern New York. Stuck in a dead-end marriage to a slovenly ugly-face loser, Adele Lack had big dreams for her and her then four-year-old daughter, Olivia. That's when her paintings got small." See more »
Announcer on the radio at the very beginning says it's 22 September. The newspaper is dated in October, it's Christmas when the sinks smashes his forehead, New Year's on the ride home and March in the ophthalmologist's office. Kaufman afforded his film a dreamlike quality by playing with the representation of time throughout. See more »
Caden Cotard is a man already dead, living in a half-world between stasis and antistasis. Time is concentrated and chronology confused for him. Up until recently he has strived valiantly to make sense of his situation, but now he has turned to stone.
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"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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