It took me a while to finally write this review after having seen this movie months ago but I’ve come to the conclusion that this is as great a movie as it is also weird and bizarre. SYNECDOCHE NEW YORK is Charlie Kauffman’s directorial debut and it doesn’t go astray from his usual style, his storyteling trademark that… takes us on a journey to illustrate life, loss and the search for the meaning of it all. Those who aren’t used to his style will find this to be a very uncomfortable experience that messes with your mind and causes you to scratch your head.
The work is very ambitious, you can tell from every scene that Kauffman pours out everything he’s got onto the canvas. It’s a play within a play but he’s also created all these characters with interwoven complex relationship that makes you think of the people in your own life and how you treat them and be treated in return. Everything is done in a very unconventional manner, one that goes beyond our typical movie watching experience and I’m not just talking about the captivating visual, especially the miniature paintings and the petal that falls off a tattoo or even the warehouse, but also the dark humor and the pacing and the way the plot quickly jumps from one to another to show us what span of time and obsession can do to a person scared of facing the harshness of reality.
Since this is Kauffman’s first time directing, you can sense an impression of somebody who’s inexperienced but I think this is proof that his next project will be worth anticipating.
Philip Seymour Hoffman, one of the greates character actors of our generations plays the character Canden who’s too focused on finding the meaning of life and trying to make sense of it all through this massive play that he’s created rather than try living the life itself. What a superb, commanding performance. Magnificent performance also by every one of the other actors involved including the subtle yet powerful Samantha Morton, the brilliant Catherine Keener who seems to love playing an estranged wife in many of her gigs, even Hope Davis who plays the shrink who only cares up to a certain point.
Being John Malkovich, Adaptation, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, and now SYNECDOCHE NEW YORK, it’s a shame Charlie Kaufman’s latest would probably deemed as weird and boring by many but to some of us, it’s where the line between art and entertainment gets blurred and profundity begins.