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:: Synecdoche New York

Pronounced Sih-NECK-doh-kee New York ‘Synecdoche New York’ is certainly one film that will have you thinking for days and days after you first view it but then what do you expect from a film that solely comes from the mind of legendary screenwriter, Charlie Kaufman. Kaufman has already shown his love for the experimental with his scripts for ‘Adaption’, ‘Being John Malkovech’ and ‘Eternal Sunshine Of The Spotless Mind’. This time he also takes control as Director for the first time. This allows Kaufman to be as experimental as he likes meaning that the audience is taken on one hell of a ride.

‘Synecdoche New York’ tells the story of Caden Cotard (Philip Seymour Hoffman), a famed theatre director who is constantly battling sickness while travelling down life’s road with a number of partners by his side. Despite the work of a therapist, Madeline Gravis (Hope Davis), his first wife Adele (Catherine Keener) takes their daughter, Olive (Sadie Goldstein) off to Germany and wants nothing to do with him. He then finds that he is unable to become intimate with his true love Hazel (Samantha Morton), but ends up with a young actress, Claire (Michelle Williams) who gives birth to a disabled daughter. It is around this time that Caden decides to attempt his ‘magnum opus’. He decides to base a play on his life and build a replica New York in a warehouse to stage it. However this process causes problems of its own, as the line between reality and the play thins, his relationship with Claire crumbles, he turns to Hazel and the actor Caden hires to play himself, Sammy Barnathan (Tom Noonan) is way to good in the role. After seventeen years working on the play it is only celebrated actress, Millicent Weems (Dianne Wiest) who can save the play.

‘Synecdoche New York’ is experimental film making at its best, but a word of warning this is really only a film for the serious film lover. If you are expecting this to be an easy watch… it’s not. You could spend months trying to analyse what Kaufman was trying to say with this film. While I would like to think that the fire that constantly burnt Hazel’s house was a representation of Caden himself (it would fit with her line ‘I’m afraid the fire will kill me’ and the fact it never left her), I’m probably way off the mark. The one thing I am sure of though is that I’m positive that a lot of the things that happened in the film, didn’t really happen even in Caden’s world, I’m sure some were just his fears or even just his imagination playing up.

The one thing you do walk away from ‘Synecdoche New York’ knowing is that just how good Philip Seymour Hoffman and Michelle Williams are as actors. Of course we have known it for quite a while with Hoffman considering the man never seems to make a bad movie but Williams’s rise is reaching a new height all together. Who would have thought that the actress who was made famous by ‘Dawson’s Creek’ would be making sensational films like this and ‘Wendy And Lucy’ in 2009. Williams is truly sensational in this film and shows that she is one of the most talented-yet-underrated actresses in Hollywood at the moment.

‘Synecdoche New York’ is a film for the lovers of the experimental, although it is impossible to feel disappointed in a film that Kaufman has managed to capture so much feeling and human emotion into it.