Synecdoche, New York

Synecdoche, New York ★★★★

A man spirals downwards.

How many films exist that you could use that phrase for? Synecdoche, New York is about just that and presents it in a particularly unique way. The sum of its parts are generally themes and ideas just about every film had dealt with, but not necessarily this way. The curtains of reality and the dreamscape are repeatedly drawn in a fashion that undoubtedly perplexes its audience, especially after an opening half an hour that is reasonably straightforward and concise, only to move onwards into a borderline miserable state of affairs as Philip Seymour Hoffman gives one of his absolute best performances. This is not an easy film to sit through; purposely designed to hammer the insecure and fearful mental state that Caden Cotard exists within, and by extension the world he shapes around him through his constantly changing play. It's bleak, dirty and a little pathetically sad in its own right. It's a film about existence through a post-modern lens and feels strikingly a film about the mindset of most people today. Every cough a death sentence, every inconvenience a tragedy, every lost train of thought a breakdown. Cotard attempts to control his life through the world he creates, and in the process continues to lose control. Some are destined for such fates, and some even lose their own shadow self. Death waits at the end of the line from station to station. The modern man is prone to more melancholy existentialism than men of other ages. All this is presented through a visual style that carries a certain oppressiveness with a manufactured cityscape stretching to the heavens blocking any God who could be watching. It's immensely beautiful in its constructive power.

There's a certain distance I also feel between myself and the film. I fall short of calling it a masterpiece. It may be something that requires further study but I still feel I understand all that it has to offer after a single viewing. Man attempts to make sense of life and its absurd experiences that range from the tragic to the disappointing. It becomes cliche to say one thinks about their own life after a film like this and states "This time I'm going to make something of it and stop this path I'm on" but we all know many do not. We return to the sleepwalking passage of time that disappears in an instant much like it does in this film. Cotard is Sisyphus pushing the rock only for it to fall again and again. I can't quite put my finger on it, but perhaps it's the obviousness of the film that holds me back just a bit. Every little detail is just to pop up things that are obviously already there; we don't need an extra wash down, it's shiny enough. But I digress, as Synecdoche, New York is absolutely thought-provoking, imaginative and told with sincerity with strong performances and written with a voice unlike many others; making his own comments on the topics of life like many before him.