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Published on May 14th, 2009 | by Niamh


Synecdoche, New York

Charlie Kaufman is well known for films Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, Being John Malkovich and Adaptation. Having seen none of these, I had no expectations going in to see Synecdoche, New York. Except that it would be something ‘different’. And different it certainly is! I walked out of Screen 2 in the Lighthouse cinema over 24 hours ago and I’m still not sure if I liked the movie or not! I’ll say one thing for it though…it sucked me in and dragged me through ups and downs – let’s face it, a lot of downs – for a two whole hours.

The film follows the life of theatre director Caden Cotard from around his mid-thirties onward, through his hypochondria, his real life health issues, two failed marriages and on. He receives a MacArthur grant giving him unlimited money to spend on his artistic interests and so begins a new project. He undertakes to create a celebration of everyday life, of the mundane and the ordinary, in a play inside a huge warehouse in New York. The ‘set’ gets bigger and bigger as the years go on, as does the cast,Β  though there is never an audience. As Cotard’s life changes so does the plot of the play until reality and the play merge unrelentingly. Even the actors are sucked wholly into the play, confused sometimes as to when they are playing themselves and when they are playing a part, at one point we have Cotard on set with an actor, Sammy, playing him and another actor there playing Sammy.

There were parts of the film I was completely clueless about. On the other hand there were wonderful parts I loved that just ‘got’ human nature. I scribbled lots of things during the film in my notebook in the dark πŸ™‚

One of the final and most poignant of Cotard’s revelations, the one ringing true to me still, was at a graveside when he turned to his lady companion and said:

“I get it now. There are thirteen million people in this world and none of them are an extra. They’re all a lead in their own story”

The more I have read about ‘Synecdoche, New York’ the more I understand it. I might need to see it again! It’s a film that I’ll get more from with each new viewing I think. Definitely a thinker πŸ™‚

I loved this song from the movie too, Little Person

Synecdoche, New York is in cinemas from tomorrow 15th May.

For those of you who were horrified that I didn’t like the Lighthouse cinema, you’ll be glad to know that it’s growing on me slowly-especially after my first visit to Screen 2 with the super cool, multi-coloured chairs and the proper lighting and row labels on the stairs πŸ˜€ There’s still no excuse for the fluorescent lighting everywhere though-they’re nobody’s friend πŸ™‚

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You can reach me on niamh@culch.ie :)

9 Responses to Synecdoche, New York

  1. I’m very excited by this.. hoping to go at the weekend, i’m quite looking forward to the ‘huh’ parts!

  2. Niamh says:

    Lol, I certainly wasn’t the only one going ‘Huh’? as I was leaving the cinema. Now that I have read a bit more about the different bits I understand it a lot better – and it’s genius! A bit much for me to have taken in in one movie though, or in one watching at least πŸ˜€

  3. Darragh says:

    I’ll go to see this based on this.

    It is a DISGRACE you haven’t seen any other Kaufman films., especially Eternal Sunshine. A thundering DISGRACE!

  4. Niamh says:

    Er…I’m sorry!!?!?! I’ll try and watch one soon…once my head has gotten over this one πŸ˜€

  5. Rick says:

    Am *dying* to see this…

    Niamh, Eternal Sunshine is one of my favourite films ever. Do make the effort πŸ™‚

    Although Being John Malkovitch is exceptional too…

  6. Darren Byrne says:

    I look forward to catching. I am a huge fan of Malkovich and Sunshine – make sure you see them both.

    But Adaptation is a painful pile of crap and Confessions of a Dangerous Mind came no where near matching the book it was based on.

  7. Oh confessions was such a huge let down! I was looking forward to that for AGES!

  8. Damm. I really want to see this, have watched Being JM countless times. Great review Niamh.

    Definitely gonna try catch it tomorrow evening.

  9. Frank P says:

    Love Kaufman. Didn’t know about this… excited now, didn’t think there were any cinema releases to look forward to in the immediate future!

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