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.

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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.
R (for language and some sexual content/nudity)
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Philip Seymour Hoffman
as Caden Cotard
Catherine Keener
as Adele Lack
Tom Noonan
as Sammy Barnathan
Josh Pais
as Dr. Eisenberg
Robert Seay
as David
Michelle Williams
as Claire Keen
Hope Davis
as Madeleine Gravis
Robin Weigert
as Olive (Adult)
Dianne Wiest
as Ellen Bascomb / Millicent Weems
Charles Techman
as Like Clockwork Patient
Peter Friedman
as Emergency Room Doctor
Sadie Goldstein
as Olive (4 years old)
Paul Sparks
as Derek
Jerry Adler
as Caden's Father
Lynn Cohen
as Caden's Mother
Amy Wright
as Burning House Realtor
Deirdre O'Connell
as Ellen's Mother
Kat Peters
as Ellen (10 Years Old)
John Rothman
as Dentist
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Critic Reviews for Synecdoche, New York

All Critics (182) | 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 14, 2009
Time Out
Top Critic

It seems more like an illustration of his script than a full-fledged movie, proving how much he needs a Spike Jonze or a Michel Gondry to realize his surrealistic conceits.

Full Review… | December 17, 2008
Chicago Reader
Top Critic

A surreal exploration of art, love and death, it has the Fellini-esque feel of some lost European cinematic masterpiece that reaches far past the normal boundaries of drama and into the very essence of existence.

Full Review… | November 21, 2008
Detroit News
Top Critic

The more you ruminate on Synecdoche, New York, the more resonance you find in it.

November 14, 2008
Miami Herald
Top Critic

It's a strange trip, to be sure, but a worthwhile one for those willing to take it.

Full Review… | November 13, 2008
Arizona Republic
Top Critic

I found it bracing, and genuinely in touch with the sweet chaos and ache of life.

November 10, 2008
Chicago Tribune
Top Critic

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 oh
paul oh

Super Reviewer

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