ORIGINALLY WRITTEN FOR AND PUBLISHED AT PASSIONFORCINEMA.COM
People are boring.
You, are boring. You get up with a foul smell in your mouth. You do stuff when people are not watching. You are confused in public and act macho in private. You are always thinking how it would be to be the guy with the girl. You sing the opera in the confines of your car. You steal glances at the price-tags and buy the unnecessary out-of-budget excess because you want to impress someone pretty who you in all mathematical probability will never ever see again. That you escape from the ‘now’ and the ‘then’ conveniently to sing the chorus and and never the song is anything but the ultimate victory of banal surrealism that is as chronic as the ability of a man to “think” itself. Yet, inspite of all this knowing, the one constant feeling that a man cannot rid himself off , inspite of thinking this a hunderd or more times in a life time – why do I see what I see as me. Why is the “me” seeing this and not the ‘he/she’ beside me. How would it feel to see the world from his/her eyes?
The daily clichés, the very food for everyday existence, are tailor made in this film to play out what it means to watch yourself being played by charecters who over a period of time become – well, you! The film is one huge drama, one huge set that Caden, played to expected perfection by Philip Seymour Hoffman, dreamt, designed and put life into where for years on end, the quest to perfect charecters takes place. There are roles assigned to each person who follow their “real” charecters and the director expects these charecters, over a period of time, behave the way their real conterparts behave so much so that after a while, the “charecters” do the thinking for the real people. Confusing? Aah well, you have to watch it to see what I mean. And un-surprisingly, there are very few reviews of this film for that very reason.
As expected from any Charlie Kauffman film, the movie has tons of layers, tons of subtle reflections on the parody of life. Whether you choose to see it or ignore it is totally upto you and very conveniently, it does not impact your take away from the film. In my book that is very compelling screen-writing and when it’s Kauffman, so you can’t expect anything less. But to be fair to the average viewer, the film is tad too long and very very boring in most parts. For an avid writer or a serious movie enthusist who wants to explore every frame, there is probebly more meat than the whole of the star-wars episodes but for most, one sitting is way too taxing.
Some of the most brilliant episodes in the film happen very early when the roles of Caden and his family are defined. The mediocre lives they lead is sketched in a way that is least pretentious as most movies about average families do. The bottomline when watching this is – the movie is Charlie’s most laborious work. It’s his offering to the art that he is born for. A screen-writing that comes along once in a while! It’s his temple to films like Roark’s for Human Spirit. It’s his ultimate creation of a soul to take form on a film screen. It’s his attempt to make bare the self of a human in the ways that can be put in terms of words and images. They say writers are some of the most complicated people in the world. They are because they have all these thoughts that go cross out each other all the time and to define all this in the form of a film take a lot of effort. This film is made from a litmus test of conflicting thoughts and the effort shows and speaks for itself.
Charlie Kauffman, all through the 130 mins, makes his charecters dance to what tunes play in his mind. The tornado of thoughts spiral out on to the huge set in front of him and permeates into Caden and into Hazel and into Sammy and into the guy who practices how to walk natuarally. The set-men do what they should, the light comes from where it should because inside Charlie’s mind, like my mind, like your mind my dear reader, the reality of things that we so comfortably choose to dismiss – exists, shrouded with peels of imaginative bliss that over time becomes the external us in the company of an audience that is inturn full of the same synthetic exterior that it becomes part of your, mine & charlie’s huge set – a play of constant moments of loudness that the rest of the silent actors take notice and then forget. Such is the vanity of the fame, fortune and social brightness – it all is but a moment of anticipated glory bred by years and years of longing.
Synecdoche, New York. Hyderabad, Andhra Pradesh. Watever! That’s my way for accounting for the title.
Note: The review was written in bits and drabs as the film is not easily digestable. So the commentry is random and incongruent mirroring the film.