Synecdoche, New York


Director – Charlie Kaufman

Writer – Charlie Kaufman

Starring – Philip Seymour Hoffman, Catherine Keener, Michelle Williams


Theater director Caden Cotard (Philip Seymour Hoffman) is mounting a new play. His life catering to suburban blue-hairs at the local regional theater in Schenectady, New York is looking bleak. His wife Adele (Catherine Keener) has left him to pursue her painting in Berlin, taking their young daughter Olive (Sadie Goldstein) with her. His therapist, Madeleine Gravis (Hope Davis), is better at plugging her best-seller than she is at counseling him. A new relationship with the alluringly candid Hazel (Samantha Morton) has prematurely run aground. And a mysterious condition is systematically shutting down each of his autonomic functions, one by one.



The directorial debut for Kaufman was set up for a knockout; with Philip Seymour Hoffman heading up the rotation of established actors and rising stars and Kaufman, after many successful scripts, getting the chance to perhaps show us exactly what he wants us to see from pen to screen.

When you look at Kaufman’s previous scripts (Being John Malkovich, Adaptation, Eternal Sunshine) that were all directed by other people, you’ll understand why this review was so hard for me to write; he’s one fucked up dude! Synecdoche, New York takes us deep inside the psyche of Kaufman (a hostile environment) and without an outside force to reign him in the film became a puzzle which I simply did not care enough about to solve.


The film starts off with Seymour Hoffman’s character, Caden Cotard, suffering through a bit of a mid-life crisis. This quickly gets weird with a visit to the hospital and despite your best attempts you’ll likely lose it in the 2nd act (if there are indeed acts).

There are quaint moments in the film which were pretty much all I had to grasp on to and grasp them I did; after all, I’d hyped this one up myself and had paid good money to see it.

To sum up – An astute viewer might be able to get more out of this film, but it will likely leave the average audience member frustrated and fed up. For once, perhaps, those pesky producers did not intervene enough.

Verdict – Stay away, it’ll do ye no good


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