Synecdoche, New York
In the mind of Charlie Kaufman and within the screenplays that
originate from that ultra-bizarre and yet strangely familiar world,
the watcher is never really sure what is going on. Even the ending
of a Kaufman film (which usually brings some form of closure or
relief) doesn't ever actually mean it's 'the end'. Long on trickery
and short on conformity, Kaufman's latest work 'Synecdoche,
New York' was released on a relatively small scale last year but
has thumped the cinematic world for ages to come.
The making of this film must have been similar to the journey
of Philip Seymour Hoffman's character Caden Cotard. Overtly
distraught by a strange and de-habilitating medical condition
that affects his ability to salivate, Cotard is a man of fatal
disappointment. Stuck within a disparate marriage to a
famous painter but pedestalizing his young daughter
Olive, Cotard aims to break out of his rut as an unoriginal
playwright and to create something so brave, artistic, daunting
and unfounded that it begins to take over the whole of his
being. Within this journey, though, Kaufman keeps the viewer
disoriented by allowing Cotard's character to lose track of
normal daily devices such as time. Within the work of this
film, time is a factor that never really makes sense but
is still pivotal to the duration of the story.
Synecdoche plays out like a dream that seems so vivid and
real the moment you wake up, but that is so fragmented and
near impossible to recall within seconds of being awake.
It is a cinematic work like none other to date. Hoffman is
obviously brilliant along with a stellar cast but the real
creative genius is in the writing. This is not to say that
Hoffman doesn't act well or isn't a good actor - he's crucial
to this role and a massively gifted actor. This film is just
so well written that the cast is almost a non-factor
(including a definite nod and branching out for Michelle
Williams). It's actually hard to write about what
unfolds within the film without giving away too much.
Just know that if you don't see any other film this year,
you must see this one.