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Synecdoche, New York (2008)

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A theatre director struggles with his work, and the women in his life, as he creates a life-size replica of New York City inside a warehouse as part of his new play.

Director:

Charlie Kaufman

Writer:

Charlie Kaufman
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2,873 ( 320)
8 wins & 28 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Philip Seymour Hoffman ... Caden Cotard
Catherine Keener ... Adele Lack
Sadie Goldstein ... Olive (4 years old)
Tom Noonan ... Sammy Barnathan
Peter Friedman ... Emergency Room Doctor
Charles Techman ... Like Clockwork Patient
Josh Pais ... Ophthalmologist
Daniel London ... Tom
Robert Seay ... David
Michelle Williams ... Claire Keen
Stephen Adly Guirgis ... Davis
Samantha Morton ... Hazel
Hope Davis ... Madeleine Gravis
Frank Girardeau Frank Girardeau ... Plumber
Jennifer Jason Leigh ... Maria
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Storyline

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 Anonymous

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Genres:

Comedy | Drama

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated R for language and some sexual content/nudity | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English | German

Release Date:

21 November 2008 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

I synekdohi tis Neas Yorkis See more »

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Box Office

Budget:

$20,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend USA:

$172,194, 26 October 2008

Gross USA:

$3,083,538

Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

$4,580,758
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Dolby Digital | DTS

Color:

Color (DeLuxe)

Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

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 »

Goofs

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 »

Quotes

Claire Keen: Knowing that you don't know is the first and most essential step to knowing, you know?
See more »

Connections

Featured in WatchMojo: Top 10 Weirdest Movies (2015) See more »

Soundtracks

Jingle Bells
Written by James Pierpont (uncredited)
[Incorrectly credited as Traditional]
Arranged by Jon Brion
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

A challenging mess
21 November 2008 | by jdesandoSee all my reviews

"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 not—it'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 soon—it'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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