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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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3,639 ( 134)
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

Official Sites:

Océan Films [France] | Official site | See more »

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:

$21,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend USA:

$172,194, 26 October 2008, Limited Release

Gross USA:

$3,081,925, 22 March 2009
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

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 »

Goofs

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 »

Quotes

Olive: Dear diary, I'm afraid I'm gravely ill. It is perhaps times like these that one reflects on things past. An article of clothing from when I was young. A green jacket. I walk with my father. A game we once played. Pretend we're faeries. I'm a girl faerie. My name is Laura Lee. And you're a boy faerie. Your name is Tita Lee. Pretend, when we're faeries we fight each other, and I say "Stop hitting me I'll die!" And you hit me again and I say, "Now I have to die." And then you say, "But I'll miss ...
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Connections

Featured in Nostalgia Critic: Is Tree of Life Full of Shit? (2014) See more »

Soundtracks

I'm Just a Little Person
Written by Charlie Kaufman and Jon Brion
Vocals recorded and engineered by Juan Patino
Performed by Deanna Storey
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Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

 
Kaufman's Most Ambitious Film
18 October 2008 | by SeraphZeroSee all my reviews

I got to see a screening of this in Boston, and let me admit to the fact that I consider this film a masterpiece. It is a rare entry into the market: an ambitious film, a gamble that, sadly, makes me question how much success it could garner in the mainstream box-office.

Charlie Kaufman, however, is not a screenwriter/director who inherently aims his sights on the box-office or the mainstream (anybody who questions this has to question Being John Malkovich). Instead, his greatest strength is a boundless creativity and insight into the qualities of humanity, and Synecdoche, New York is no exception. Rather, it is the apex of Kaufman at his most insightful, his most ambitious, and (as his directorial debut) his most hauntingly beautiful.

The plot itself is a contradiction of simplicity and complexity: to say that it is about Philip Seymour Hoffman trying to put on a larger than life play is an accurate statement, yet it completely fails to capture what Synecdoche, New York tries to convey. It is not a conventional film, but instead it is ambitious: a mixture of conventional narrative and surrealist cinema, one where the beauty of the film does not solely lie upon the plot, but the way every minute quality of the film ties together to form the tapestry.

The actors all do their parts brilliantly. I am hard-pressed to find any performance that was weak or, for that matter, standard of the Hollywood formula. Hoffman is brilliant in a role that utilizes his physical and acting gifts, and he takes the character through the spectrum of its possibilities. All the other actors also performed brilliantly, although what struck me as wonderful about the acting choices are that the majority of the actors present are not "glamorized" for the screen. Rather, the blemishes, the age, and the imperfections that make them ordinary are ever present in the film, making Synecdoche, New York seem beautiful in a strange, "dirty" way. Much like a city, its majesty lies not in grungy street corners or clogged rain gutters, but in the whole image that is comprised of such small, necessary imperfections.

And that, ultimately, is why Synecdoche, New York is such an ambitious, beautiful film. It is not a perfectly crafted standard screenplay, nor a perfectly executed piece of cinema. At least, Kaufman's work is not perfect under the current criteria of modern cinema. Synecdoche, New York is a gamble; a mixture of images and music and dialogue and acting that follows Kaufman's heart and his meditations on several ideas: namely, those on life and death and the connections all around us. It is dark yet funny, evocative and haunting. It is perfect in being a work of art that tempts us to find explanation, yet ultimately needs none compared to the feelings they evoke in us.

Viewers who are looking to see the difference between "art" and "entertainment" need only see Synecdoche.


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