Synecdoche, New York

Synecdoche, New York

We are not against films that depict life as a tiny yelp of pain and confusion quickly swallowed by the indifferent silence of eternity (e.g. we are somewhat fond of Nutty Professor 2: The Klumps), but we do ask that such films have some vigor to them, and this film has none at all. In fact, this lumbering vomitorium of morbid neurosis is perhaps the supreme encapsulation of why screenwriters are generally ill-suited to direct films or have any agency whatsoever in the realization of their work. It engages in a kind of vampirism: the pseudo-Joycean overdetermination of the text leeches the images of vitality, rendering them flat and funereal, and those images in turn are edited together with little invention or rhythm, resulting in a film which leeches the spectator of their own vitality. Some, after being mopped off their seats by the theatre staff or a loved one and coagulating again into their discrete selves, pronounce what the film has done to them profound. But its putative profundity is in service of what, precisely? The counterrevolution, of course! One aspect of the film which causes us no end of disappointment and frustration is how it continually introduces ostentatious metaphorical devices and fails to use them as allegories for capitalism, only as a means for furthering its totalitarian despair. A woman who lives in a perpetually burning house is an almost too-ideal visualization of the contradictions in the life of the bourgeois subject. Buñuel would be quite pleased. But no! it is merely another ho-glum metaphor for the inevitability of mortality. There is no critique of anything existing here, only an overevolved intellect feebly succumbing to the bare facts of existence. We have just hurled the DVD from our balcony in hopes that it lands in the onion soup of one of our many enemies.

Most of the scenes in the film which feature Tom Noonan are quite good, however.