matt qt’s review published on Letterboxd:
Why do I do this to myself? This is the most utterly depressing movie that I have ever seen. I knew what I was getting into before I started, but no movie has ever made me feel such a deep and overwhelming feeling of melancholy. I have not smiled since I watched this, and I’m starting to feel that I may never be happy again. Being alone with my thoughts when the film ended as the screen turned white was unlike any experience I have ever had. I was forced to confront existential questions that I had never even considered up until watching this film. It really made me think about how I am going to leave a mark on the world and the painful existence of living an unremarkable life. The more I think about it, life is just go to school, get a job, pay off debt, climb the ladder, vacation for a couple weeks, retire, and die. The film really made me think about how easy it is for life to just pass you by if you aren’t paying attention. It makes me think about if I want to have kids and be responsible for exposing someone else to the limitless tragedies of life. I feel like I wouldn’t be able to forgive myself for placing someone else into the painful existence that is life. Sorry if this is deeply personal, but this should just go to show how thought provoking this film is, forcing me to face some of the most important life questions.
There is so much complexity to this film, not only in its layered narrative that gets meta towards the end, but also in the philosophical questions that it proposes. Somehow, this film embodies every single question and aspect of life within its runtime. It is widely agreed upon that this film is sad, but the conclusions that people come to about life and the questions they ask as a result of the film are all different. Depending on each individuals state of mind, everyone can have a different response to the film. And that is the beauty of Synecdoche, New York. It’s mundanity is easily depressing, but it’s witty dialogue adds life to the film. This movie allows you to feel a wide range of emotions, not just a deep sadness.
Although the film was powerful in the sense that it made me feel strong emotions, I did feel a bit lost in the narrative complexity of the second half of the film. The themes seemed to be getting presented in a messier way than they were in the first half, but I think I still understood what Kaufman was getting at, and still felt the impact of the film as a whole. Although I may not have been intelligent enough to follow the complexity of the film all the way through, I still think that the script was written near perfectly given its intricate structure. The only aspect of the film that I couldn’t quite wrap my head around was the need for the constant jumps in time. I’m sure there was a thematic reason for this, but it just seemed rather nonsensical to me. And of course, how could I not mention the late Philip Seymour Hoffman's brilliant performance? He excels in every emotion of acting in this film and every film that he appears in. He really helps to elevate Synecdoche, New York in its entertainment.
This was one of the few movie watching experiences that I’ve ever had in which I could say that I came out of it changed in some way. I have a feeling that this film is going to stick with me for some time after this. It is not one I am in a rush to rewatch right now just because of its mundanity, but if thoughts of this film persist in my head for long enough, then I may have to rewatch it. So far, I am a huge fan of Kaufman’s films as they propose some of the most important questions in life that I never thought I would have to face when watching a movie. It’s a hard movie to recommend, but everyone should see Synecdoche, New York at some point in their life.