“I think the movie is fun. It has a lot of serious emotional stuff in it, but it’s funny in a weird way. You don’t have to worry, ‘What does the burning house mean?’ Who cares. It’s a burning house that someone lives in—it’s funny.”–Director/writer Charlie Kaufman
PLOT: Caden is a community theater director in Schenectady, New York, whose marriage and health are crumbling. When things seem their lowest—his wife abandons him, and he believes that he’s dying—he inexplicably receives a MacArthur Genius grant. He uses the money to create a meticulous recreation of New York City inside a warehouse, filled with actors playing characters from his own life, including one playing Caden the director himself.
- Synecdoche is the directorial debut of Charlie Kaufman, who has been the screenwriter behind most of Hollywood’s big-budget weird films in the past decade. His scripting credits include Being John Malkovich (1999), Adaptation (2002), and Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (2004).
- Kaufman began the script for Synecdoche as a horror film to be directed by frequent collaborator Spike Jonze. Over two years the script evolved into its current tragicomedy form, and, as Jonze was busy with other projects, it was agreed that Kaufman would direct, with Jonze co-producing.
- Synecdoche, New York won the 2008 Independent Spirit Award for best first feature.
INDELIBLE IMAGE: Synecdoche is a movie that weirds us out more through the concepts and dramatic situations than through the visuals, but there is a lovely image of a tattooed rose that physically sheds a real dead petal as its owner expires.
WHAT MAKES IT WEIRD: Charlie Kaufman. More to the point, Charlie Kaufman unleashed; unlike Being John Malkovich or Adaptation, where weird and puzzling events are given a rational (if obscure) answer by the end, the weirdness of Synecdoche deliberately frustrates all attempts at a logical solution. Hazel’s house, which burns and smokes for decades without being consumed, is shamelessly absurd. The movie is an exploration of dream logic, a life journey that fractures time, space and coherence, where individual events do not add up piece by piece on a plot level, but resolve themselves on an emotional level.
Original trailer for Synecdoche, New York
COMMENTS: “There is a secret something at play under the surface, growing like an Continue reading 27. SYNECDOCHE, NEW YORK (2008)