Puffin’s review published on Letterboxd:
A complicated and novelistic screenplay gives the viewer more to consider regarding the film's own choices, implications, and even its flaws. Ultimately, I consider its own direction to be a rewarding one, with its reflections of experience and artistic endeavor to be somewhat cynical, but ultimately toeing an ambiguous line between dreadfully apocalyptic and beautifully understanding, even in fault, and even in embarrassment.
Charlie Kaufman reminded me of quite a few storytellers throughout Synecdoche, New York. And while he is far from the director that someone like Theo Angelopoulos might be, or like Emir Kusturica might be, I think he does stick out in managing the film's pace in a brisk way without dropping any of its depth in the process. I do wish he held a firmer grasp of time, siding somewhere closer between an unnoticed but gradual ascent to age, or even something more traditional, but I do very much like what he was going for in this fear of mortality matching an increasingly destructive environment and a faster, more unfeeling rush of time. A few images do stick out, even if its colorlessness feels less like a stylistic decision and more conventional. I really commend the choices of transition however, especially in the first half. I love scenes that seem to end too soon, but still feeling strikingly on-point as a descent into something uncertain and worrying.
There is a part of me that would have rather read this as a novel. But the added layer that Kaufman considers visually can't be disregarded so quickly, and even if its downfalls are often of its more cinematic aspects, there is justification here for being the medium that it is. And something so towering, so multi-faceted, and still so sincere through its many cynical edges, is not something I would want to dismiss anyway.