Think of the strangest film you’ve ever seen and times that by ten and you might get somewhere close to the bizarre movie that is, Synecdoche, New York.
Directed by Charlie Kaufman and starring Philip Seymour Hoffman (Caden), Samantha Morton, Michelle Williams, Catherine Keener, Emily Watson, Dianne Wiest and Jennifer Jason Leigh, the movie is about a man who builds a life-size part of New York and lives there along with his actors who all play out his life. It’s probably no surprise to you when I tell you that Kaufman has previously written Being John Malkovich and Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind – both strange films in themselves but I think I understood what was going on more in those than in this one. The film is very desolate and follows the journey of a man who is struggling with his family, his health and life in general. He appears to have the usual problems of family life, but as the film develops, many more characters become entangled in these problems as this dark comedy unfolds.
The set design is truly spectacular. I haven’t yet worked out if the movie was shot on set or on-location in New York. Either way, the set design was amazing and the scope of the project that Caden (Seymour Hoffman) creates is realised in Kaufmann’s head, let alone in ours.
Seymour Hoffman puts in an amazing performance but then again, when doesn’t he? The supporting cast are magnificent, especially Emily Watson, Michelle Williams, Samantha Morton and Tom Noonan, who I’ve not seen in a movie since he appeared as the grim reaper in Last Action hero back in 1993! Love that movie! Probably because it’s more my intellectual level! All of the casting was great with no one spoiling the film, however I did get a bit lost with all the new character appearing towards the end of the film. There are some very strange events that occur during the film, and with some films you can work out without much trouble the symbolism behind these. But this film is quite quirky and illogical, with houses on fire that don’t burn down and a huge warehouse full of peoples’ lives. The film is very much about self-discovery, and the idea of death is very prevalent throughout the film.
I’m still not entirely sure what happened in Synecdoche but that doesn’t spoil it. I’m glad I saw it as i think it’s one of those movies you can recommend to your friends just so you can discuss it and hope they might be able to tell you what exactly what was going on! Please, if someone does understand it, can they let me know!