Synecdoche, New York

Synecdoche, New York ★★★★★

“There’s always a never again...”

It’s hard to talk about something like this without coming off as pretentious because of how ambitious its key themes are; the irreversible passing of time, dissatisfaction with life, and death. Obviously it handles far more than just those, but they were the main ideas that felt the most important to me. Synecdoche, New York is by far the most profoundly depressing movie I’ve ever seen; not just in its subjects, but in execution, relatability, and emotional realism. 

Charlie Kaufman scripted, directed, produced, and even wrote music for the film, and his deep connection to the project is undoubtedly part of its immersiveness and personal resonance. But whereas other filmmakers often try to put the viewer in the shoes and the mind of their characters, Kaufman highlights the connection the viewer already has with its protagonist, inciting all the thoughts and fears we subconsciously possess as human beings. This is a technique that allows for true introspection, and as a result, evokes intense feelings of sadness in a way few artists are capable of doing.

This not only makes Synecdoche, New York a tragic and seemingly personalised experience, but also ties in directly with the story of the film itself: Caden’s overwhelming desire to create something true and meaningful leads to his theatre piece becoming so accurate to real life that it near ceases to be something he’s made, instead becoming a representation of human life. The film itself ends up working in a similar way, feeling so lifelike and relatable that the experience becomes a reflection of your life. I know all of that sounds really pretentious, but it’s how I feel about it, and it’s hard to put it coherently in any other way.

Kaufman put so much meticulous effort into every scene, the layers of themes, the melancholic soundtrack, directing Hoffman’s outstanding performance, and every other piece that goes into creating a film that he managed to perfectly encapsulate the human experience in the most genuine and subjective way possible. Synecdoche, New York may be intimidating and heartbreaking, but it’s an intensely honest and personal masterpiece.

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