Thursday, September 3, 2015

Depressing Disappointment: Synecdoche, New York Sucks The Life From The Viewer!

The Good: Moments of concept/performance
The Bad: Utterly oppressive tone, No stellar performances, Wholly unlikable characters, Simplistic plot development
The Basics: Watching Synecdoche, New York is an unpleasant, draining, experience.

Every now and then, there is a movie I see several previews for and I come to anticipate it in away I never expected. My movie collection includes a decent number of creative, indie flicks and on so many DVDs there were previews for the film Synecdoche, New York that I developed a real hankering to see it. After two years of fairly active anticipation, I finally got a copy of Synecdoche, New York in last month to watch.

That's years of anticipation and eagerness wasted.

Synecdoche, New York has a simple premise and long before it gets to the creative, engaging aspect of its concept, it bores the living crap out of the viewer with unlikable characters, predictable and depressing plot developments and an oppressive tone that goes nowhere special. And I'm someone who loved Magnolia (reviewed here!). Synecdoche, New York is dark, depressing, and not a stellar representation of either creativity or the power of the human spirit. Instead, the film takes forever to begin and when it finally gets to the premise - which was the subject of all the many preview trailers - it is virtually impossible for the viewer to care at all.

Caden Cotard is a playwrite and director who has been stuck in academia. While raising his daughter Olive, with his wife Adele - with whom he has no passion - Caden stages a production of Death Of A Salesman with a young cast. After experiencing an unforseen health problem, Caden begins to question his whole life. Adele abandons him for Germany and a new man there. Caden remains in New York where he scores a MacArthur Grant to produce his own, original, play.

What follows is Caden's attempt to mount his play as his health slowly fails over the years. He buys a warehouse in New York City and builds a replica of the City in which to stage his play. Hiring actors, he tries to tell a deeply personal story - even getting sexually involved with the woman he hires to play the theater version of Adele. Caden's nervous system continues to degrade and he blurs the lines between his life and the play within the warehouse until, after, what seems like an eternity, the film mercifully comes to an end.

Synecdoche, New York is entirely esoteric and while it is performed adequately, half the cast seems more depressed than their characters. Led by Philip Seymour Hoffman, Synecdoche, New York never truly pops. Hoffman mumbles his way through another character who is depressed and unlikable and wrapped up in his own little world. He, above all, plays a role that does not stretch him or his talents in any noticeable way.

Ultimately, Synecdoche, New York is a mildly clever concept that takes far too long to get to and is unsatisfying once writer and director Charlie Kaufman drags us there.

For other works that Josh Pais is in, please visit my reviews of:
Psych - Season 7
Gentlemen Broncos
A Beautiful Mind
“The Magnificent Ferengi” - Star Trek: Deep Space Nine
“Business As Usual” - Star Trek: Deep Space Nine
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles


For other movie reviews, please check out my Film Review Index Page for an organized listing!

© 2015 W.L. Swarts. May not be reprinted without permission.
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