Thursday, March 26, 2009

Synecdoche, New York

Synecdoche, New York (Charlie Kaufman, 2008) [9]

Dense, confounding, mesmerizing, and fantastical could all be used to describe Synecdoche, New York. Yet through all of its meandering is a film that on the surface seems narcissistic and dour but in fact does some interesting ideas on love, death, creativity, and longing. Philip Seymour Hoffman plays Caden Cotard, a local theater director in Schenectady, New York with a none too successful career and a failing marriage to his artist wife (Catherine Keener). When Caden's wife leaves him, it sets off a spiral of physical ailments and psychological loathing in Caden. These series of ailments sends Caden off into a creative fervor, moving to New York and creating an intensely personal theatre project about his life. It's from there that Kaufman's script weaves in an out of a series of events that have no definition as reality or fabrication, of a filmic world where characters and setting merge from the two worlds. Caden becomes involved with two more women (Michelle Williams and Samantha Morton in nice supporting roles) and eventually ages as his project grows and grows to worlds upon worlds. Characters in the film become characters in the play, and all in all, it leaves a product that's difficult to absorb on first viewing. But underneath all its miasma of ideas, the film really does have something to say about the creative process, as well as life and death, love and loss. It may seem like a confusing mess to some, but don't look for them in narrative. The film works in moments and seen like that, those ideas show through.

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