Synecdoche, New York (Charlie Kaufman – 2008) A

Caden Cotard is a playwright and he is falling apart, he thinks he is dying. He goes from one doctor to another. His wife leaves him and takes their daughter with her to Germany. When he gets a good bit of money, Cotard, decides to produce a major play, a meaningful masterpiece. The play will be his life. It’s about him, a guy who plays him and actors who play people in his life. He keeps falling apart and his life keeps getting more complicated. He is married again, has another daughter, a mistress who lives in a burning house, and might be losing his grip on reality. Before you know it he is getting older, and the production is still going on on a huge set while life and the play intermingle. This film as far as I could tell is about life itself. Cotard, played by Philip S. Hoffman in yet another great performance, could be anyone. He sees his life go by all the while reaching for something (family, lovers, meaningful career) and never quiet getting there. In the end everyone is replaceable.

Synecdoche, NY is fairly depressing honestly. On the other hand I saw it twice in 3 days. It’s brilliantly written and is not as “wierd” as it sounds and not nearly as odd as Kauffman’s previous wonderful works. It flows perfectly and we are never confused as to who is whom or if we are on set or in real life. The performances are all very good. I especially liked Hope Davis as Cotard’s psychiatrist and Dianne Wiest as actor/director. Kaufman in his directorial debut really shines and I guess that makes sense. He would be the one to understand exactly what the script writer intended.

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