Review: Synecdoche, New York (2008)


Sometimes words fail, no matter how hard you try!

Written By: Charlie Kaufman
Directed By: Charlie Kaufman

I had no intentions to write about Synecdoche, New York, it was supposed to be a late night viewing of a film I wanted to see and nothing more. Yet I find myself pulled up to my desk at one thirty in the morning, compelled to write about this film. I don’t exactly know what to say mind you, but I feel as if I must write about what I just witnessed. My words will undoubtedly fail to do justice to what Charlie Kaufman has set out to achieve, then again maybe they won’t, I just don’t know.

The first thing I can tell you is that I can’t in any way tell you what Synecdoche, New York is about. That’s a head scratcher for sure, but hear me out. I can understand why at first glance someone would come away from Synecdoche, New York thinking they had just wasted their time, believing that there was no rhyme or reason behind what they had just seen. You know what, scratch that, I wouldn’t be able to understand someone saying that. What I mean when I say that I can’t tell you what Synecdoche, New York is about is that it is such a personal movie that it would be impossible for me to tell you what this movie means to you.

It’s personal nature is what makes Synecdoche, New York such a universal film. The great commonality shared by all of humanity is the personal lenses through which we view the world. Synecdoche, New York seizes upon that fact and weaves a tale that will be different for every person who partakes in it. What I take out of one scene will be completely different than what you take out of it. Yet we are connected by the personal nature of the film, it seeks to make a personal connection with each and every one of us and in doing so it connects with all of us, yes even those who don’t like the film.

At times Synecdoche, New York speaks to the idea of humanities amazing ability to over-analyze and micromanage every facet of their existence. At other times the film comments on our lack of connectivity with one another, or our inability to feel adequate with the gender of our affection. I could go on, because in every second of its run time Synecdoche, New York spoke to me about something. It didn’t preach, it unfolded and I went along for the ride, soaking in every moment like a child discovering the wonders of the world around them for the first time. I didn’t fully understand it, but my complete understanding wasn’t asked for. All that was asked of me was that I pay attention and strive to get whatever I could out of the movie playing before my eyes.

I don’t feel that Synecdoche, New York is the type of movie where you come away discussing the acting, set design, cinematography, direction or writing. I know that may sound like I am taking away the entirety of the picture, but I truly believe that Synecdoche, New York is the type of motion picture that resides deep within your gut and rolls around in your brain over time. It isn’t defined by concrete facts or assessments of the talent therein, rather it is a movie that is given definition by the thoughts it pulls out of you. As the movie rolled along I found myself thinking of scenes that had just passed and wondering what was to come, and then thinking again to scenes that had already come to pass. It wasn’t like most movies where I was trying to put it all together, as I watched Synecdoche, New York I was simply thinking and enjoying what I was watching. It will sound really weird, but I was being analytical without actually be analytical. I was allowing myself to be a sponge for what was on the screen without stopping my brain from breaking the movie down as it entered my conscious being.

I know that what I’ve written is very meta, and hella pretentious, but I believe it best describes my thoughts. Synecdoche, New York made me think, it made me think a lot. I’m not foolish enough to proclaim I have it all figured out, I don’t think it is a film that is meant to be figured out or that can ever be solved. Synecdoche, New York is all about the personal experience, it is all about the universal commonality of the personal experience and how art can say something different to each and every individual who sees it. I want to say that Synecdoche, New York isn’t for everyone, but that would be a lie. Because of the intimate tone of the film, because of the way it digs into every person who watches it in a different way it is a movie that everyone needs to and should see.




3 responses to “Review: Synecdoche, New York (2008)

  1. Hmm, sounds as if your wrote that pretty soon after watching the film. It’s nice to know that it struck such a chord with you, but I’d be interested in reading your thoughts a few weeks or months down the road.

  2. I may do that, and yeah, I finished watching it about five minutes before I started writing that. That doesn’t happen often, usually I wait a while to write about a movie.

  3. Pingback: Synecdoche, New York (2008) | timneath

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