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At-A-Glance Film Reviews

Synecdoche, New York (2008)



Reviews and Comments

Screenwriter Charlie Kaufman takes the directorial chair for his craziest film (which is saying something), which appears to be about a theatrical director trying to put together a great, personal work. I say "appears," because the surface plot is just a mask for what Kaufman is really talking about, which is nothing less than the nature of human life itself. In the 1920s, there was a film movement in Germany called Expressionism, where filmmakers arranged the sets and lighting to reflect the main character's state of mind. Here, we have an expressionist plot: the whole story can be said to be a reflection of the character's state of mind.

Certainly the story doesn't make much literal sense. Throughout the course of this film, a book will address him directly, he will mistake himself for an actor playing him, and a woman will purchase a house on fire. Creepy turns like this are reminiscent of filmmakers such as David Lynch and the early surrealists, but the weirdness is played as a tragedy, rather than a metaphysical thriller. If all this sounds heavy and philosophical, it is. If you see this at all, give it the room in your head to breathe. This is the kind of film that can be greatly rewarding, but only if you invest in it.