Synecdoche, New York

Synecdoche, New York ★★★★½

"These people aren't extras, they're leads in their own story."

I saw this last night, but I went to sleep because this is a film that really needs to be rested on. There is way too much to unpack in just one viewing, and although I'm not anywhere near smart enough to understand all the symbols and metaphors, I at least understand the emotions depicted on the screen.

I had been contemplating death a little more than I should recently. I am only 15 but I am utterly terrified of the concept of death. Its hard to contemplate ever not contemplating. Its spine chilling to think that one day the thoughts in our heads right now will vanish and you never get to think about not thinking. You die and thats it. Its final. I dont believe in a god, but this sure does make me wish I did. I can't even imagine being unable to imagine. I don't think enough people realize how much a human life means. Nobody truly understands the word "life" until they experience the word "death", and sometimes that may be too late. Just the thought of the pain and repercussions your loved ones would have to endure especially if you died young, is terrifyingly depressing. You cant deny that everyone in the mist of their own life thought at some point it was their story. They are the lead. They are the hero, the protagonist. They'll be the grandpa who died peacefully at 100 years old surrounded by loved ones. Its difficult to come to the terms with that may not being what you get. It takes a hell of a lot of your own work and a bit of luck. Everyone goes from a person, you as well, into a lifeless pile of bones. The person and body you are right now, will eventually become as meaningful as a grain of sand. If my existential crisis was a movie, it would be Synecdoche, New York.

Synecdoche, New York is bleak, depressing, and void of any feeling other than sadness. This film feels like a old ragged grey punching bag. With each punch, an indent stays. You keep punching it until it becomes flimsy and seems like its about to dust away. But it never breaks. For every punch, it gets a little weaker, but never weak enough to break. Charlie Kaufman keeps throwing punches of everlasting loneliness and depression, but never lets us escape. With each second we see this man die more and more, get lonelier, sadder, more beaten by his own world and the one that he creates. As the end of his life is fleshed out further and further, the film begins to lose all narrative structure, sense of time, and even realism. If I had to describe this film in 2 words it would be robust flexibility. The legendary Phil Hoffman, one of my favorite actors, and with this probably my new favorite actor of all time (but my all time favorite actor/actress is this of course Ingrid Bergman 😉). Tragic in every sense of the word that he passed away only 6 years after making this film, which really makes you think. The song featured in this film, Little Person, perfectly encapsulates the overall meaning, all the symbols equate to the themes highlighted in the song.

If we have to talk about this film as less of a therapeutic release and more of a film, this isn't the cleanest. Of course, the messiness really gets you into the headspace of the character, but this being Charlie Kaufman's directorial debut, it can show. You have to respect the gargantuan amount of ambition it shows to pick this project as the one to direct as your first. At times, it feels dangerously longer than the initial runtime and I'd be a liar if I said I didn't check how much time was left once or twice. Charlie Kaufman throws A LOT at you to say the least, and I do think he has improved plenty in his directing with Anomalisa, but I just wonder if Kaufman's complex ideas and concept couldve been expressed better in the hands of Spike Jonze or Michel Gondry. Still a magnificent experience that makes you want to go outside, scream as loud as you can, come back inside, shrivel up in the corner as you cry and whimper about the everlasting dread of what is to be.

I know I'm in the middle of a Kubrick marathon, but with Charlie Kaufman's new I'm Thinking of Ending Things premiering on Netflix in just a matter of weeks, I had to brace myself for my most anticipated movie of the year. That and I'm also about to start reading his new novel. Thanks for reading all the way through this depressing review, and I'm sorry if I sparked your existential crisis as well.

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