Tag Archives: Philip Seymour Hoffman

Review: Synecdoche, New York

Sony Classics

Courtesy: Sony Classics


A review of this film would be more inconsequential than usual and mere folderol to the spectacle of it all. Therefore, it is much more prudent to jot down some thoughts had a fair bit ago upon experiencing the piece. After all, Charlie Kaufman himself said Synecdoche is constructed more like a dream than a rational, linear film. Caden Cotard(Philip Seymour Hoffman) is a theater director heading headlong for death. This knowledge is conveyed to him through the various failures of his body. The blood in his stool, the pains in his body, the pus, the headaches, the insolvency are all harbingers, signaling that the road is ending and there is no detour. Yet, Caden still wants to find a way out the same as we all do, his conduit being theater. Having won a MacArthur genius grant for his interpretation of Death of a Salesman, he sets about creating meaning in the existential void by bringing all of life into the theater, a venue he can manage and mold to his liking. His wife having left him with his kid and quickly finding himself all alone in the world, Caden connects with the world by bringing it into his. Actors are cast, mammoth sets are built and much like the world itself, everything is begun with grand ambitions and hopes as larger than the titanic warehouse in which Caden creates his world. It is with this premise that the film leaves the pathetic trepidations of the masses behind and one begins to see Charlie Kaufman playing with the puzzle he has just created, attempting to solve it not for the audience but for his own pleasure. Eventually he puts the pieces together and finds that they form a picture of nothing. Caden sees his love rejected universally as his daughter and ex wife scorn him, his relationships end in chaos or awkward stalemates. While he was busy bringing his life onto the stage, he forgot to live it. No matter, life is theater isn’t it? Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead and no matter what Caden comes up with it is gone. The stage is ephemeral and as unforgiving as the world, the performances disappearing into vapor as quickly as they come. Still, Caden wants to learn a thing or two before his time runs out. The stage becomes a prism, refracting, reflecting and extracting his life mercilessly. It is all there, the bleak sadness of his rituals: cleaning up his ex wife’s apartment while she is away, falling in and out of love with the same woman, smart enough to see it yet too stupid to do anything about it. It all comes out but Caden needs much more. Every extra is a lead, it’s real life man. Like life, the experiment ages. Actors become weary, sets begin to decay and Kaufman creates it all with exactitude. Reappearing for brief instants almost subliminally, certain images and motifs began to seep into the film. There is a pattern to it all, sad as one finds to be once discovered. Caden does not know that he’s just a little person, however, and he begins to get stage directions seemingly from on high. Wandering through his shattered reality and the one he did not create Caden has no refuge but in melancholy and the slight comfort of another. That’s it isn’t it? The song goes “I’ll find a second little person who will look at me and say… I know you, you’re the one I’ve waited for. Let’s have some fun.” A cautionary odyssey after it all happens, Caden cannot win and neither can we. Therefore, the least we can do is get the little moments that Caden sacrifices right. Regrets, however, cannot be fixed. The full weight of this bears on Caden but before he can do much more about it or nothing at all, there is a final stage command, die. I’m just a little person and so are you. This film might seem big but it isn’t. In actuality, it’s made for the little people like you and me by a little person. Kaufman knew he could not succeed where Caden had failed yet he got on with it, as we all must. See it and weep if you can, then forget about it forever, no good in fighting time.

RATING: 5 out of 5 stars
– Vman

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