By now, any true film aficionado knows their redundant role when it comes to the ominous works of Charlie Kaufman. He only creates original, awe-spiring masterpieces that leave you perplexed as you sit in the Java House sipping your triple shot non-fat soy latte from an unnaturally large mug. Discussing his genius could take hours if not days and you are better person for having witnessed this cataclysmic cinematic explosion breathe it’s life all over your film screen at the Arclight.
Snap out of it fool. This 124-minute opus to paranoia and death obsession was beautifully shot but played out terribly. Now I don’t need everything to be spelled out for me, I enjoy deciphering the meanings of intelligent films. I love it when a filmmaker uses the medium to open up a dialogue inside the viewer, aiding the exploration of concepts and ideas, that might otherwise go untapped. Film speak aside, for the first half of this movie,Charlie Kaufman you get a C+in this class.
“Synecdoche, NY” is about Caden (Philip Seymour Hoffman) who is struggling to be a relevant play director, trying to maintain the women in his life, and dealing with hypochondria, extreme morbidity, and paranoia. Subtle cuts and editing techniques are used as devices to trigger emotions in the film viewer but theses images and actions are too abstract to strike a chord. All the women in Caden’s life (Michelle Williams, Catherine Keener, and Samantha Morton) are emotional wrecks, and what starts off as a cute neuroses becomes an utter annoyance to watch. Perhaps this movie was made for the average white nerotic male writer but unlike Adaptation, Eternal Sunshine, or Being John Malkovich this movie refused to offer me something to identify with.
The second half of the movie has all the heart but I couldn’t be redeemed. The characters truly go from worst to worse and it took me over 3 hours of pausing and making excuses before I forced myself to actually finish it. Torture. Guantanimo Bay style. Sad reflections are presented and I began to attempt to root for Caden but I felt depleted.
I am truly saddened that a movie I was looking so forward to seeing offered me little to no incentive for my viewership. I’ll probably have to watch it a second time because there might be a lot to be uncovered in this film puzzle. Maybe next time Kaufman. There’s always next time.