Synecdoche, New York

Synecdoche, New York ★★★★★

(For this review, I'll refer to the main protagonist as "Ellen" due to my queer interpretation of the film.)

I am surprised nobody talks about just how readable this movie is as a trans narrative.

First of all, the goal of the play in part is to express Ellen's real self and their life. And in this play, she is played by a cis woman and is referred as a woman.

And while homosexuality and being trans aren't the same thing, it is unfortunately something that a lot of people interpret the LGBTQ. Homosexuality could refer to the fact that she's trans and that because she's trans, she must like men or it could refer that she may actually like men to an extent but hasn't ever expressed it (And btw, transwomen who like men are straight but I am playing in this logic.) And at the end, she starts to have images of her cis woman version being married to a man named Eric, who her daughter has accussed her of being with. Although, I do believe that Ellen may be a trans lesbian but it's an expectation as a woman to like men and for a transwoman to be "gay".

Also, her saying that she wants to be "pretty" like that one woman she is about to sleep with and she does make it clear that she believes at times that she could be better as a woman. She even calls her body "pretty" while looking all sad.

She is referred as "Ellen" by that old lady consistently and there's never this moment in which she is corrected or anything. Ellen just accepts it and it's okay with it. And you could say: "Maybe she's referring to the actress playing her" but when the lady refers to her as Ellen, she just asks what she must say to her because she'ss supposed to be playing Ellen, who is the main protagonist.

Another woman plays Ellen at the time she was identifying as a man and Ellen wears a wig.

She says she likes cleaning (which is sadly a gender role expected on women), is mentioned to smell like perfume and menstruation and she uses toilet paper to clean herself as if she had a vagina like a cis woman.

At the very end, Ellen almost literally has a voice of a woman in her head telling her how she should behave, who btw is meant to be playing Ellen in the play. And she's referred as "Ellen" by that voice and refers to her by she/her pronouns.

You can definitely read the Ellen aspect as a metaphor that no matter your gender/sex, we are all lonely but it can also work in a literal sense while at the same time getting across that other point. Maybe Ellen genuinely identifies as a woman but they were also hoping that if they finally came out with their identity, they would feel more happy and less lonely but it didn't turn out to be the case.

And btw, this isn't the first time when gender identity has played a role in a Kauffman film. In "Being John Malkovich", there's a AFAB character who, after being in John's body, realizes he wants to have a male body and becomes desperate for it.

Personally, I find it rather relatable as a transwoman myself since I have felt lonely for a lot of my life and I do have a lot of my "vague regrets" and to an extent, me discovering I am trans felt like a sort of hope for a change in my life but in the end, I still feel alone and do have a lot of worries about what am I going to do with my life.

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