Sunday, November 16, 2008

Film Review: Synecdoche, New York

Synecdoche, New York
Directed by Charlie Kaufman
Released October 24, 2008

Charlie Kaufman is best known for his Oscar-nominated screenplays for “Being John Malkovich” and “Adaptation,” and his Oscar-winning script for “Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind.” All three films are wacky but surprisingly focused explorations into a different way of looking at life. Here Kaufman steps behind the camera during shooting of the film, and there result is a marvelous yet incomprehensible fantasy. “Synecdoche, New York” is entirely fascinating, but hardly ever does it make any sense. It’s a world within a world within a world within a world, and the degrees of copying are mind-boggling. The make-up here is something that should truly be trumpeted as wonderful, since all the characters age decades throughout the film and it looks as if they’ve actually lived all those years. The character relationships are intensely interesting, since it’s unclear whether the real Caden Cotard (Philip Seymour Hoffman) is interacting with the actual Hazel (Samantha Morton), or whether it’s the actor playing Caden (Tom Noonan) trying to engage the actress portraying Hazel (Emily Watson). It’s an unbelievable mind trip, but that’s what come to be expected from the mind of Charlie Kaufman. All the actors in this film are incredible, and casting Samantha Morton and Emily Watson as the same person is a dream come true. It’s not the kind of film that ends leaving the viewer satisfied, but instead one that gets him thinking, ruminating on just how complex and bizarre an experience this movie really is. It’s sort of like watching a movie without subtitles – you know you won’t understand everything, but it’s sort of alright, because there’s a magical feeling that something unfathomable is going on.


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