Film Micrœview #56: Synecdoche, New York

02.23.2014 § Leave a comment

Rating: Good.

This is actually only the second time I’ve seen this. The first was before it saw wide theatrical release. I had needed to see it ASAP, of course, because it was written and directed by the same guy who wrote BJM and Adaptation. And I remember feeling a little underwhelmed walking out. Clearly this was a step beyond what Kaufman was trying to achieve with his previous two efforts, but had it succeeded — was it a graceful step?

Watching it a second time after 6 years (and after having just read the screenplay as a stylistic reference point for writing my own screenplay), I feel like my answer to that question was unchanged, just reinforced. If the scope of the question is “Has Charlie Kaufman confronted life, death, and meaning and helped others to do the same” then I would say a resounding yes. If it’s “Has Charlie Kaufman achieved a darkly comic mood of degeneration and futility and desperation,” then yes as well. If it’s “Has Charlie Kaufman spun an intricate and surreal web of fears and passions that approaches timelessness and transcends the creative professional to encapsulate all living beings drive to remake the world into what they understand” then fuck yes!

I think I love this movie in a similar way that I love Akira — the stakes keep rising and rising. It begins grounded but spirals out until everything, literally, is the topic. But it is nigh impossible to structure a film like that and not suffer from a little bit of cheesiness. There are definitely times where SNY suffers for mistaking not pulling a punch for one too many right in the balls. For how much shit is crammed into these two hours, it’s pretty much miraculous that most of it works — but some just doesn’t.


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