Georges and Anne are in their eighties. They are cultivated, retired music teachers. Their daughter, who is also a musician, lives abroad with her family. One day, Anne has an attack. The couple's bond of love is severely tested.
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
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 »
I've seen a lot of films in my life and I can truthfully say that this is one of the ten worst, possibly the very worst. Kaufman has made a nice living over the years flying into his belly button. It's been an interesting ride but, with Synecdoche, New York, he has most assuredly jumped the shark.
To say that this film was pretentious is an insult to pretentiousness. It is tone deaf, contrived, almost like something Kaufman would do as a gag to see how many people would take it seriously.
And yet, this specious, horrid work of cinema does have one piece of real value. It shows that even gifted, capable, creative people can really screw up. To see this, like an amateur golfer seeing a PGA pro botch a shot, gives the rest of us hope. This is not schadenfreude, just a reminder that we aren't so bad after all.
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