Synecdoche, New York (2008) - Rotten Tomatoes

Synecdoche, New York (2008)



Critic Consensus: Charlie Kaufman's ambitious directorial debut occasionally strains to connect, but ultimately provides fascinating insight into a writer's mind.

Synecdoche, New York Trailers & Photos

Movie Info

Theater director Caden Cotard is mounting a new play. His life catering to suburban blue-hairs at the local regional theater in Schenectady, N.Y., is looking bleak. His wife Adele has left him to pursue her painting in Berlin, taking their young daughter Olive with her. His therapist, Madeleine Gravis, is better at plugging her best-seller than she is at counseling him. A new relationship with the alluringly candid Hazel has prematurely run aground. And a mysterious condition is systematically shutting down each of his autonomic functions, one by one. Worried about the transience of his life, he leaves his home behind. He gathers an ensemble cast into a warehouse in New York City, hoping to create a work of brutal honesty. He directs them in a celebration of the mundane, instructing each to live out their constructed lives in a growing mockup of the city outside. The years rapidly fold into each other, and Caden buries himself deeper into his masterpiece, but the textured tangle of real and theatrical relationships blurs the line between the world of the play and that of Caden's own deteriorating reality.more
Rating: R (for language and some sexual content/nudity)
Genre: Drama
Directed By:
Written By: Charlie Kaufman
In Theaters:
On DVD: Mar 31, 2009
Box Office: $3.0M
Sydney Kimmel Entertainment - Official Site


Catherine Keener
as Adele Lack
Tom Noonan
as Sammy Barnathan
Josh Pais
as Dr. Eisenberg
Michelle Williams
as Claire Keen
Hope Davis
as Madeleine Gravis
Robin Weigert
as Olive (Adult)
Dianne Wiest
as Ellen Bascomb / Mill...
Charles Techman
as Like Clockwork Patie...
Peter Friedman
as Emergency Room Docto...
Sadie Goldstein
as Olive (4 years old)
Jerry Adler
as Caden's Father
Lynn Cohen
as Caden's Mother
Amy Wright
as Burning House Realto...
Deirdre O'Connell
as Ellen's Mother
Kat Peters
as Ellen (10 Years Old)
John Rothman
as Dentist
Show More Cast

News & Interviews for Synecdoche, New York

Critic Reviews for Synecdoche, New York

All Critics (183) | Top Critics (44)

Somehow, because it resists unlocking, it feels more serious, troubling, significant. It's as funny as it's depressing. It's as brilliant as it is baffling.

Full Review… | May 15, 2009
Time Out
Top Critic

The movie is ungainly, but to appreciate it one has to swallow the whole purple pill. As inconsistent as it is, it's still more album than mix tape.

Full Review… | May 16, 2016
Stop Smiling

Brilliantly imagined and perfectly performed, Synecdoche, New York is so heartbroken and strange that it can be compared only to other Charlie Kaufman films.

Full Review… | March 6, 2015
The Nation

An important and intriguing film that must be seen to be believed.

Full Review… | March 24, 2011
What Culture

The power and tragedy of the love story, or hell, the life story of Caden Cotard will become a part of you, because it is your story, and his story is yours, and back and forth and so on and on because 'everyone's everyone'.

Full Review… | October 27, 2010

Art is a dream through which some seek to rise above the mundane. "Synecdoche" is the nightmare of succumbing further to the mundane via art. What could be inaccessible is instead gloriously indispensable - a confounding & combative, but great, film.

Full Review… | October 20, 2010

Audience Reviews for Synecdoche, New York


Directors Cat
Directors Cat

Super Reviewer


"Synecdoche, New York" is, by all accounts, the nightmare world of Charlie Kaufman's mind. Both writing and directing, Kaufman's inner psyche is so unhinged that the result is a film so insane, so overambitious, so all-reaching and meta that its impossible to not be amazed by it, but its easy to be frustrated by it's all-consuming , baffling, abstract, fragmented wholeness.

Sam Barnett
Sam Barnett

Super Reviewer

You can tell that this film was meticulously drawn out but the final work is hard to comprehend. The film is existential to the max and only lets true scholars understand its true meaning which may make some bitter after watching such a film.

paul o.
paul oh

Super Reviewer

Synecdoche, New York Quotes

Caden Cotard: I will be dying and so will you, and so will everyone here. That's what I want to explore. We're all hurtling towards death, yet here we are for the moment, alive. Each of us knowing we're going to die, each of us secretly believing we won't.
– Submitted by Matthew B (13 months ago)
Caden Cotard: Hazel, what do you think of this title? Unknown, Unkissed and Lost?
– Submitted by caroban s (2 years ago)
Ellen Bascomb/Millicent Weems: What was once before you - an exciting, mysterious future - is now behind you. Lived; understood; disappointing. You realize you are not special. You have struggled into existence, and are now slipping silently out of it. This is everyone's experience. Every single one. The specifics hardly matter. Everyone's everyone. So you are Adele, Hazel, Claire, Olive. You are Ellen. All her meager sadnesses are yours; all her loneliness; the gray, straw-like hair; her red raw hands. It's yours. It is time for you to understand this.
– Submitted by caroban s (2 years ago)
Hazel: The end is built into the beginning.
– Submitted by Frances H (3 years ago)

Discussion Forum

Discuss Synecdoche, New York on our Movie forum!