Synecdoche, NY

“I am so completely confused right now. So confused. What did I just watch?

I picked this one up in the first round of buying DVDs from that video store that’s closing and selling off its inventory. It was one of several Philip Seymour Hoffman movies that I had on my wishlist. In this film from Charlie Kaufman, making his directorial debut after writing other well respected but confusing movies such as Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind and Being John Malcovich, PSH plays a man whose life has fallen apart. In the wake of that, he builds a life size immersive theatrical production that mirrors his real life a little too closely.

“”Real”” is a relative term here. The first half hour or so was mostly normal, and then things started to get weird. I was expecting him to wake up from a dream at any moment, and then it kept on going. And getting even stranger. It finally occurred to me that maybe none of it was real. Halfway thru, I texted a friend who’d seen it recently. He said he’d had a similar reaction and that by the end he thought the whole point was just to confuse you. Well then, mission accomplished.

I did find some useful information on IMDB explaining some of the film. There are pieces of that that I can buy, but the bigger picture is still elusive to me. And not in the almost-have-it-which-means-it-will-stay-with-me way of something like Donnie Darko or Birdman. More of a I-dont-get-it-and-I-concede-that-I-never-will way. Some of the symbolism that’s explained there is kinda cool.

Also, I feel like such an idiot that I didn’t realize the “”Synecdoche”” and “”Schenectady”” are two different words. Or rather, I didn’t realize that there’s a word out there that’s “”synechdoche”” and I just assumed it was the city name the whole time. says it means “”a figure of speech in which a part is used for the whole or the whole for a part””. The New York setting makes the title a play on words, but using a word that means a play on words. Okay if that much confused you, then just stay away from this movie because it’s all uphill from here.

The movie did have a fantastic cast, anchored by PSH at his best. Catherine Keener, Samantha Morton, Emily Watson, Diane Wiest, Michelle Williams, Jennifer Jason Leigh. All of them clearly appearing like they knew they were a part of something big. They seemed to have understood their roles better than I did, but if they didn’t, it just goes to further prove what good actors they all are.”

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