Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Synecdoche, New York (2008)

Director: Charlie Kaugman
Writer:    Charlie Kaufman
Cast:       Philip Seymour Hoffman, Samantha Morton, Catherine Keener, Michelle Williams

A theater director, who is having trouble with the women in his life and is constantly worrying about his impending death, sets out to create a life-size replica of New-York city inside a warehouse as part of his play which he thinks will be his legacy.

I had seen the film sometime back and didn't get it at all even though I was aware that it was something great. I decided to watch it again after the news of Philip Seymour Hoffman's sad death. His character is named Caden Cotard after the 'Cotard Delusion' where one is worried about their own death and believes their organs are missing or decaying. His wife is also an artist and she leaves him taking their child with her.She goes on to become very successful and the canvas for her paintings become smaller and smaller whereas Caden's project becomes bigger and bigger in scope. Throughout all this, the passage of time is very confusing for Caden as well as the audience. He goes on to cast artists playing his own acquaintances as the play becomes play within play ad infinitum. Towards the end he casts an old lady, who was playing the role of cleaning women, as himself. She directs the characters at a funeral scene with the priest giving a speech about life and death and how nobody is watching anybody and life is just a miniscule fraction of a second compared to the cosmic timescale. Everyone tries to do something and leave a mark but it is just futile. This speech is like an expositionary device for Kaufman to reach his audience. 

Saw a Charlie Kaufman interview where he compares theater and films and says that a play is always a unique experience for the audience as it is acted out live and no two rendition of the play will be the same. He wants to recreate the same through his films by it being different when you see it again after sometime over the course of which you would have changed and thus the perception of the film would also change. Hollywood will never be receptive to his ideas and lets just hope he is able to get funding for the ambitious ideas he has in mind.

Rating: 5/5