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Charlie Kaufman's ambitious directorial debut occasionally strains to connect, but ultimately provides fascinating insight into a writer's mind. Read critic reviews

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Movie Info

Life is looking pretty bleak for theater director Caden Cotard (Philip Seymour Hoffman). His wife and daughter have left him, his therapist is more interested in plugging her new book than helping him with his problems, and a strange disease is causing his body to shut down. Caden leaves his home in Schenectady, New York, and heads to New York City, where he gathers a cast of actors and tells them to live their lives within the constructs of a mock-up of the city.

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Critic Reviews for Synecdoche, New York

All Critics (193) | Top Critics (64) | Fresh (132) | Rotten (61)

  • Quote not available.

    November 17, 2011 | Rating: 4/5
  • Kaufman, who once dazzled us with his japester's invention, uses those same tools to do something else here. He leaves us reeling.

    May 17, 2009 | Rating: 5/5 | Full Review…
  • This is a classic Kaufmanesque work: bold, bizarre and utterly baffling.

    May 17, 2009 | Rating: 3/5 | Full Review…
  • Synecdoche, New York finally feels bitter, hollow and adolescent: like a gargantuan music video conceived for an emo band with a penchant for Pirandello.

    May 17, 2009 | Full Review…
  • Synecdoche (pronounced Sih-neck-doh-kee, by the way) is beautifully acted throughout, scripted by Kaufman with the same valorous unorthodoxy as his Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, and shot with real panache.

    May 15, 2009 | Rating: 3/5
  • 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.

    May 15, 2009 | Rating: 5/6 | Full Review…

Audience Reviews for Synecdoche, New York

  • Oct 08, 2015
    Intentionally or no, this film is an entertaining and farcical trip. Synecdoche is mainly about finding out the truth about oneself by looking at one's relationships to other human beings. It is a romantic film, but in an amazingly absurd one at that. To enjoy this film, one has to be able to just go with everything that happens (all manner of weird and crazy things) and maybe make some sense out of it or not. (And for those that do like a challenge, there is plenty of brain candy strewn throughout the background of the film.) Synecdoche is reminiscent of Woody Allen films (as well as 8 1/2 and Barton Fink), though the energy level is higher: more manic and more depressive. Phillip Seymour Hoffman is a great fit for the lead role with a performance that highly projective, the world is his shadow. The main character is honestly and apologetically imperfect (again, reminiscent of the Woody Allen characters, but also very different) and striving. It is hard to know who to recommend the film to since it is just a bit on the dark side. Those who love arthouse films will probably pick up on a lot that is in it, and enjoy it. But there is also plenty in there, plenty of drama and humor, for the casual viewer. Whether or not you enjoy it, may be highly dependent on whether or not you are in the mood for the experience.
    Robert B Super Reviewer
  • Sep 15, 2015
    A portentous, pretentious film that draws on Fellini's 8 1/2, Bergman and Woody Allen but never manages to become an original, coherent piece on its own. The work is so fragmented and delights so much in its own playful fragmentation that it becomes tedious in the end and whatever existential message it contains feels convoluted and shallow. Charlie Kaufman, who is famous for bringing post-modern sensibilities in screenwriting to Hollywood audiences, gives in under his own ambition here. The actors are doing some excellent work though and they are the only reason to see the film.
    George M Super Reviewer
  • Jun 15, 2014
    [img]http://images.rottentomatoes.com/images/user/icons/icon14.gif[/img]
    Directors C Super Reviewer
  • Feb 23, 2014
    One of the greatest films of the past decade is Charlie Kaufman's ambitious excursion into the writer's mind, and the struggle of creation in a deranged and haunting surrealist piece with themes explored in time, loneliness, and artistic extent to greater establish the protagonist's deception between reality and creation. It is a beautiful film, encompassing all audiences would recognize from Kaufman's previous works, but the extending philosophy on modern perception is what stands high amongst his other scripts. It's not his best work, coming just below Eternal Sunshine as the piece tends to think high of itself from an author's view oppose to the cinematic, but the fine details which carry the piece through it's opaque narrative only add to it's beauty and unfamiliarity.
    Bryce I Super Reviewer

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