Sunday, 9 October 2011

Film Review: SYNECDOCHE, NEW YORK (2008)

Synedoche New York poster Writer/Director: Charlie Kaufman
Running time: 124 mins (approx)
Certification (UK): 15

Genre: Comedy/Drama
UK Release date: 24th October 2008 (Limited)

Watched on Sky+ Sunday 9th October 2011.


I watched this film on a recommendation, one I picked up online somewhere. After the first few minutes I was wondering just what this crazy film was all about and just why was I bothering with it? I persevered though and it got better, I began to understand the characters and it got better still, if a bit weirder. I’ll tell you what I thought about it by the end after this brief summary.

SNY-3 Caden Cotard is a playwright and theatre director, he is married to artist, Adele Lack, and they have a daughter, Olive. They live in Synecdoche, upstate New York (hence the title) where Caden is worried about his health. When Adele doesn’t come to the opening night of his new play, Caden also begins to suspect things are not quite as stable at home as he thought. Soon after, Adele announces that she is going on a trip to Berlin and she will be taking Olive with her. Caden is somewhat dumbstruck, but continues living in New York. He is awarded a substantial prize for his work and decides to produce a play about his life and the people around him. As time passes he has relationships with several women, Claire Keen, with whom he had another daughter, Arial, and Hazel, who was to play a big part in his future. As he finds premises to put the play on and actors to play the many parts he has in mind the world outside moves on. I really don’t want to say too much more, it’s quite difficult to put down in words anyway and so I’ll leave it here… Don’t want those Spoiler Police playing the part of the Spoiler Police and chasing me down now.

SNY-2 I found this quite a strange film to watch, it has the scale of something like ‘Brazil’ by Terry Gilliam but also the snappy dialogue and soul searching of something by Woody Allen. All the performances were excellent, in particular Philip Seymour Hoffman as Caden Cotard, he played the role brilliantly. Also worthy of note were; Catherine Keener as Adele Lack, Tom Noonan as Sammy Barnathan, Michelle Williams as Claire Keen, Samantha Morton as Hazel and Dianne Wiest as Ellen Bascomb / Millicent Weems.

SNY-7 As I’ve already said, this is quite a strange film to watch, it blurs the lines between Caden’s real life and the life he is trying to portray on the stage. I found it quite refreshing, although it did drag on a bit towards the end. The scope of the film is quite magnificent, it spans several decades, or appears to, and yet Caden never seems to get any closer to finally opening the doors and letting an audience in. I found it quite touching in places but also found it hard to have much sympathy for Caden because all of he woes he brought down upon himself. At the end of the day though, it’s well worth a look; it will make you think if nothing else!... Recommended.

My Score: 7.1/10.

IMDb Score: 7.3/10 (based on 22,876 votes at the time of going to press).

Rotten Tomatoes Score: 68/100 (based on 175 reviews counted at the time of going to press).

If you’re crazy enough… You can find me on Facebook at:

(It’s a long one I’m afraid… but a good one!)

Minister: Everything is more complicated than you think. You only see a tenth of what is true. There are a million little strings attached to every choice you make; you can destroy your life every time you choose. But maybe you won't know for twenty years. And you may never ever trace it to its source. And you only get one chance to play it out. Just try and figure out your own divorce. And they say there is no fate, but there is: it's what you create. And even though the world goes on for eons and eons, you are only here for a fraction of a fraction of a second. Most of your time is spent being dead or not yet born. But while alive, you wait in vain, wasting years, for a phone call or a letter or a look from someone or something to make it all right. And it never comes or it seems to but it doesn't really. And so you spend your time in vague regret or vaguer hope that something good will come along. Something to make you feel connected, something to make you feel whole, something to make you feel loved. And the truth is I feel so angry, and the truth is I feel so fucking sad, and the truth is I've felt so fucking hurt for so fucking long and for just as long I've been pretending I'm OK, just to get along, just for, I don't know why, maybe because no one wants to hear about my misery, because they have their own. Well, fuck everybody. Amen.


1 comment:

HarleyQuinn said...

I would like to see this one, it seems unique. Plus, I like Phillip Seymour Hoffman. great review Andy!