Synecdoche, New York

Synecdoche, New York ★★★

Synecdoche, New York, the directorial debut for Charlie Kaufman, features some interesting insights and some rather ingenious moments as it primarily plays on visuals that have become his primary idiosyncratic touches. In the past, he's been fortunate to work with Michel Gondry (Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind) and Spike Jonze (Being John Malkovich). These Directors admire his unique worldview but are skilled enough to hone his unquestionably excellent scripts and bring them to the screen with highly satisfying results.

Philip Seymour Hoffman is always worth watching, and here he plays Caden Cotard, an angst-ridden theatre director and playwright. Uncomfortable about his personal creative and existential boundaries, he leaves his home and heads to New York City to organise and launch an autobiographical production within a large mock-up of the city. While the basic story is relatively straightforward, the film's most favourable aspects emerge from their ideas rather than their execution.

Kaufman's best films are those he writes and hands to others to direct; he works much better collaboratively, with directors who can rein in the material a little and vastly give them more focus. Like the more recent I'm Thinking of Ending Things, this film loses most of its more promising ideas in a spiral of self-indulgent nonsense. It undoubtedly has moments where its central themes are fascinating; these occur predominately in the second half of the film in which characters wander around a warehouse embroidered to dream-like scenes. However, the vast majority of the contemplations on life/death, love/hate and the creative process have been explored before with much sharper application from filmmakers such as Federico Fellini; the majority of which are vastly superior films.

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