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  • Daniel Rae

Synecdoche, New York Review


"Synecdoche, New York", Sidney Kimmel Entertainment


This film is without a doubt the most convoluted, intricately-woven, brilliantly detailed and multi-dimensional entity that I have ever stumbled upon. This is a film that reminds us of the lengths that cinema as a medium of storytelling can go, and It is my NEW FAVOURITE FILM for it.

I've been pondering over this film for the best part of a week now, trying my best to pick at and rationalise the waves of meaning it hauls throughout. This film not only utilizes film form and narrative structure, but manipulates it; bends it; contorts it, to mould the most existential and bitterly depressing story I've ever sat through, and that doesn't even begin to justify the despondently bleak and melancholy places of humanity this film explores. This is all held together by its flimsy premise - the search for meaning. As pretentious as it may seem, It's actually hard to fathom how much appreciation Charlie Kaufman has for human intricacies and all the possible emotions we can feel. This all enables the themes of legacy, depression, anxiety and pride to be presented with an unquestionably raw and vulnerable feel. This is most evident in the perfectly-realised self-reflexive tone the film approaches the diegesis with and the dance it shares with Seymour-Hoffman's Caden. The brilliance of this relationship is not only carried by the dozens of furnished details that moulds my new favourably-flawed favourite character to ever grace the screen, but also how he is shaped by the sinisterly-twisted, yet depressingly real the world around him is. The genius of this approach is the intriguingly-surreal feeling of everything the character encounters to feel part-tangible part-distant. This mesmerising eye for spectatorship can also be seen with the subtle yet cerebral approach towards conflict. Whilst Kaufman does an amazing job at exploring the dark, primal and selfish instincts that us as individuals may retreat to during a period of emotional turmoil, he has an equal appreciation for how each spectator can latch on to Caden's tragedies.

Whilst I can ramble on from here the detail to performance and writing with characters straying off onto weirdly-real ramblings, or cinematography and colour with how the often low ISO dampens the natural beauty of life that surrounds these characters, although it is clear that Kaufman wants wider and negotiated readings to be explored (and rightfully so), I think the nearest-to-perfect artistry of this film lies in the wonder of life and the exploration of self, presented through an equally-perfect balance of metaphor and the spectacle of film as an art form. This film to me is what film should (at least) strive to be - not being afraid as individuals to lose control and struggle along the winding cross-roads of meaning and identity.


5/5 Stars

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