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
At the start of the film, when 'Phillip Seymour Hoffman' is reading the news at the breakfast table, he reads out that "Harold Pinter has died.... wait.... no - he's won the Nobel prize". This is a reference to a famous Sky News clip whereby Sky, in their rush to be first with breaking news, accidentally announced that Harold Pinter was dead. In fact it had just been announced that he was to be awarded the Nobel prize for literature. 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 »
To start, let's make it clear that this movie will not be for everyone; I don't think any form of authentic art is. There is no flaw in this truth or in the people who do or do not find themselves moved by the art in question- it just is.
I do believe there are people who more intuitively and naturally reflect inward, on death, on life- the meanings of all these things; it is a natural state for them. And I believe there are people as equally blessed and cursed to not think very deeply on these matters. I think this film will find a comfortable home in the hearts of the former. Now, of these "inner seekers"- I believe you have all variations of folks- those that seek deeply and find beauty, connection, and great joy. There are those seek deeply and find isolation, grief, and deep wells of sadness. There are those who find some semblance of balance between the two. I myself lean more towards connection, and subsequent joy because of that I found this movie to be profoundly moving- on almost a primordial level- and I believe- in a hopeful way. Don't get me wrong, I cried many times during the movie and didn't want to leave the theater when the film was finished. I held back the wells of whatever it was that was welling up in me until I got to my car and then unloaded some body shaking tears. It wasn't sadness, though it was something else. I don't really know yet. One thing I do know is that all of Kaufman's films seem to affect me in this manner. After the initial viewing- I know distinctly how the movie has affected me emotionally- I can FEEL it. I am not capable of defining that feeling, or explaining why that feeling has erupted (it is clear to everyone that his plot and content are generally all over the board and it usually takes several viewings to pull any real intellectual analysis from them)- but I certainly am conscious of something new and fresh happening inside my emotional hard wiring. I find that a phenomenal feat in the face of a sea of art which relies on very standardized ways of pulling it's consumers in emotionally. Do you remember how you felt after Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind? I remember walking out and feeling very hopeful about the nature of love- in a whole brand new way. Not in the contrived, standardized Sleepless in Seattle kind of way not to judge that- but there is something amazing about an artist who can make you feel things you are not sure you've felt before. That, to me, is authentic art. This really isn't about valuing one thing more than another- just offering great respect to someone who has taken your mind and heart to places it hasn't been before. It is nice to visit those old comfortable haunts, but this well, like all of Kaufman's films- will take you somewhere entirely new- if you are predisposed to that kind of wandering.
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