Friday, December 12, 2014

All the world's a stage, And all the men and women merely players

Synecdoche, New York (2008) - Kaufman *rewatch
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Loneliness and death. For Caden (Phillip Seymour Hoffman) they figure greatly into his unraveling life. Yes there are other important things like finding self and representing truth in art and such. But the bottom line is, everyone dies some day. Don't know how Caden ended up in a loveless, downright cynical marriage and a daughter. His stage play gets a good reception and he gets smitten by a flirtatious box office girl Hazel (Samantha Morton) but waves her advances off to be truthful to his family. But as he struggles as a playwright and with his hypochondria, his artist wife Adele (Katherine Keener) leaves with their 4 year old daughter Olive to become a successful painter. Then he gets a MacArthur Fellowship/Genius Grant. He wants to put up a massive play that reflects real life. Caden, so caught up with producing something truthful, he loses track of time. Time passes aggressively fast. He sets up a duplicate copies of everything in a massive warehouse space, the buildings, people he knows in real life. With a blink of an eye Caden is old, Olive is a lesbian stripper covered with tattoos, dying of ink poisoning, Adele has died after leading successful career as an artist who did tiny paintings of people, just like how she used to make Caden feel- insignificant, during their marriage.

This multi-layered, ambitious film affected me like no other. Kaufman touches upon universal theme of loneliness and melancholy through the eyes of an obsessive artist who builds a replica of life on stage within the replica, within the replica.... Kaufman gives the well worn premise of life imitating art- vice versa and life as a stage play with more depth and intimacy. However absurd the idea of recreating life that is just like the one you are living in in a giant warehouse in New York, Synecdoche's consistently somber mood takes the surrealist whimsy down to earth. Forever romantic, he allows Caden and Hazel to finally unite, but too old to 'fuck each other until they merge into chimera'. There is more in Synecdoche than every 10 yr old's inclination that the world evolves around him/her. As Caden, nearing the end of his life after overseeing the ongoing, unfinished work - the lifelike biosphere he created, realizes that he too, is playing the role, directed by an actress who plays a cleaning lady (Diane Wiest). Synedoche is a massive undertaking that is at once deeply personal, complex and touching as much as any works of Bergman or Fellini.

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