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Running Time:
2 hours, 4 minutes

Rating: R Restricted. Under 17 Requires Accompanying Adult.

Rating Explanation:
for language and some sexual content/nudity.

Jimmy's Buzz Guide Review:
An existential, sprawling, hard-to-follow and frustratingly surreal movie.

Additional Info:
DVD Features: Closed Caption; In and Around Synecdoche, New York; The Story of Caden Cotard: In Conversation With Philip Seymour Hoffman; Infectious Diseases in Cattle: Blogger's Roundtable; Screen Animations; NFTS/Script Masterclass with Charlie Kaufman.

CAST:
Philip Seymour Hoffman ... Caden
Catherine Keener ... Adele
Daniel London ... Tom
Robert Seay ... David
Michelle Williams ... Claire Keen
Stephen Adly Guirgis ... Davis
Samantha Morton ... Hazel
Hope Davis ... Madeleine Gravis
Frank Girardeau ... Plumber
Jennifer Jason Leigh ... Maria



Synecdoche, New York
The story has to do with Caden Cotard (Philip Seymour Hoffman "Capote"), the director of a small theatre company in Schenecdaty, New York, who suddenly finds himself physically falling apart. Adding to his woes is the fact that his artist wife Adele (Catherine Keener "Capote") leaves him, taking their little daughter Olive (Sadie Goldstein) with her; and he finds that his romance with Hazel (Samantha Morton "In America"), his box-office manager, seems to be coming to nothing as well.

Things change when he receives a MacArthur “Genius” grant that he decides to use to create a life-mirroring play in which a huge troupe of actors will perform scenes in a miniature version of New York City that he constructs in a massive warehouse. His preparations for the venture go on for years, during which time he hires a strange fellow (Tom Noonan "The Pledge") who’s been following him around surreptitiously to play Caden himself, and an actress (Emily Watson "Breakin the Waves") to play Hazel. He also hires an actress (Diane Wiest "Bullets over Broadway") to play a cleaning woman. Caden’s obsessed with cleaning and often sees himself in that role, but eventually she’ll plays an even more important role. The play is always being rehearsed, but it is never performed. As Caden grows older and feebler he must deal with the deaths of his parents and the problems with his now grown-up daughter while confronting his own mortality.

How much of this is supposed to represent reality and how much is simply Caden’s artistic vision or psychological hallucination, is anybody’s guess. But clearly what writer/director Charlie Kaufman ("Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind") in his first directing effort is trying to illuminate is the inevitability of growing old and dying.  Caden represents every man, just as his model represents Manhattan and his play represents life. The doubling effect also extends into what little we see of the play, basically a commentary on how art is essentially a torturously reductionist process, a point made not only by Caden’s mini-New York but by Adele’s tiny paintings, which are so small one has to look through a magnifying glass to see them. Sadly, this existential, sprawling, surreal film is far too hard-to-follow and frustrating to watch.
Synecdoche, New York with Philip Seymour Hoffman: DVD Cover







 






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