Synecdoche, New York

Directed By: Charlie Kaufman


“Si-nik-do-kee”, synecdoche, a metaphor where the whole stands in place for the part, or vice versa. A nerdy, writerly title, to be sure, perfect for this multifaceted, ridiculous and surreal film from the unique mind of Charlie Kaufman.

Finally given his own film to tackle (after his celebrated scripts like Adaptation and Being John Malkovich, this film is in fact too weird to have been directed by anyone else. A summary of the impossible to summarize plot: a theatrical director wins the “genius prize” McArthur grant, he then chooses to break free of normal theatrical conventions, creating a life-sized version of New York inside a hanger. Within this set is another set, and so on, with each story circling around itself, hangers inside hangers, different actors hired to play the actors in each inner story.

This is the type of film that many, many will hate, but it’s told with a great deal of lightness and whimsy, never coming across as pedantic or needlessly arty. It’s a dry comedy, to be sure, but its silliness and intelligence are infectious, and the performances by Hoffman and (personal fav) Emily Watson are sparkingly great.

Grade: A


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