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
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 »
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 »
A thought-provoking, challenging Kaufman experience.
syn⋅ec⋅do⋅che: a figure of speech in which a part is used for the whole or the whole for a part, the special for the general or the general for the special 'Synecdoche, New York' marks Charlie Kaufman's directorial debut. A monumental event on its own right. It is a maddening venture, a staggering project to face life's greatest of mysteries. Kaufman takes us on a soul-searching journey, one that he is taking every bit as much as we. It is a trip unlike any I have ever seen, and to say that I enjoyed it would be a very difficult thing to say. But 'Synecdoche' seems to be pointing towards something very profound, as undecipherable as it may appear. A flawed masterpiece, and a risk Kaufman seems willing to take.
There's nothing easy about 'Synecdoche', it is one of the most difficult films I've sat through. It's the sprawling story of one man's life, a tragic life. Philip Seymour Hoffman gives a harrowing performance as his character attempts to create a play of realism and honesty. And even as he dives head first into his work, his own life is in a perpetual state of free fall. A wife who leaves him, a daughter out of his life, relationships that crash and burn. His play, inside a warehouse where he has reconstructed New York City for people to live our their ordinary lives, becomes a fruitless and maddening descent into unhappiness and destruction.
What is 'Synecdoche' about? Is it one man's search for meaning in the midst of meaninglessness? That in order to appreciate the preciousness of life, we must accept the inherent chaos. Existence is what we make of it, and it is the choices we make that shape and define who we are and the lives we lead. Every choice brings with it a million different consequences, some seen and others that go unnoticed.
Kaufman tells us we are one in a world of many. We each play a starring role in the story of our life. People we meet every day, those we know and love. Never will we truly know them, their thoughts, or why they do what they do. And maybe it's not up to us to decipher what we will never understand. We must look inward, not to others, to find peace and insight.
If life is a play, the world is our stage. We only have this one shot, no second chances. We try to control our projectories, cast roles that need to be filled. In the end, what does it matter? Will the world miss us when we're gone? Life is what you make of it. 'Synecdoche, New York' dares to search for meaning, reconcile paradoxes to which there are no answers. But that doesn't keep Kaufman from giving it his best, as tedious and heart-wrenching as it may sometimes be.
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