Monday 15 April 2013

Synecdoche, New York [2008]

Charlie Kaufman has written some of the most original and mind-bending scripts – think of Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, Being John Malkovich, Adaptation, Confessions of a Dangerous Mind. Consequently, when he decided to direct as well, it was a given that the film would be wacky, intelligent, audacious, and, with no one to hold him back, self-indulgent, overly ambitious, and not flawless. Synecdoche, New York was all of these, and a bit more. Cadence Cotard (Phillip Seymour Hoffman), a talented but eccentric theatre director, sees his marriage and family falling apart when his painter wife (Catherine Keener) leaves with their daughter for a trip to Berlin only never to return. He also sees his life falling apart when he starts getting afflicted with a number of ailments, realizes too late that he is in love a box office girl (Samantha Morton), and his second marriage with an actress (Michelle Williams) too ends in shambles. With such personal complexities at stake, he undertakes an insanely ambitious project, his magnum opus, when he unexpectedly wins a Fellowship – recreation of his life and those of the people around him through a mimetic, endless play, by constructing a miniature city and casting actors to play him and others. Brilliantly enacted by the ensemble cast, which also included Tom Noonan, Emily Watson, Jennifer Jason Leigh, among others, led by a startling and nuanced turn by Hoffman, the movie, with its meta-narrative and deliberately alienating style, covered a huge array of themes – deep existential crisis, unrequited love, loss, pain, creative urge, celebration of the mundane, and of course, the concept of art imitating life and vice versa.

Director: Charlie Kaufman
Genre: Drama/Psychological Drama/Black Comedy/Social Satire/Ensemble Film
Language: English
Country: US


Sean said...

Very odd film indeed, gave it a second try and still didn't love it, altough still a fascinating film. I see you have an upcoming review of the Grandmasters, how'd you see it?

Shubhajit said...

The film is quirky, irreverent, out-of-the-box, cerebral and alienating. And yes, fascinating too.

Yeah, I managed to get hold of The Grandmasters courtesy the World Wide Web - I assume you've got what I've meant by that :)

I wouldn't place it among Wong Kar-Wai's best works, but its a reasonably good film alright. The visuals were particularly brilliant.