Synecdoche, New York

Synecdoche, New York follows the proud tradition of Charlie Kaufman movies that I don't enjoy. His characters are always unlikeable, and I can't get invested in them. There are a lot of things about it that could be funny if it weren't so depressing as a whole. I can appreciate it, but it's resoundingly not my thing.

2008 seems like a long time ago. It was only seven years. Maybe anything before 2010 registers as "a long time ago" for me. Charlie Kaufman is not my favorite writer. I could appreciate Being John Malkovich, but I didn't like it. I found the characters to be really unlikeable, which was the same problem I had with Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind. I generally hate surrealism, and that movie is pretty out there. Plus if you don't like the characters, it's just really hard to be invested in what's going on.

So I went into Synecdoche, New York knowing I probably wasn't going to like it, either, and it started off being just as off-putting as expected. The opening song of a kid singing about Synecdoche was super grating, and then all the chaos around Caden's family life was uncomfortable. Olive was so annoying, his wife obviously wasn't into him anymore, and he kept having all these medical issues. I can kind of relate to the medical stuff, and the exaggeration of the doctors not caring at all about any of his problems.

The burning house was really weird. I don't get it. She was afraid of dying in a fire? Was that it? Was that all there was to it? It was annoying that it was on fire all the time. And then she died of smoke inhalation? From the candles? What? And what was up with the scene where Olive dies? That was totally in his imagination, right? Where did that even come from? It seemed a little off that all these women were attracted to him, but I guess it's not impossible. I couldn't believe he lived into his 90s, with all the medical issues he had. They seemed to stop mounting up after the leg thing for some reason.

There were parts that were supposed to be funny, and maybe they were a little funny in their absurdity, but the movie is so droning as a whole I definitely couldn't call it amusing. I guess all the surrealism can be explained by the fact that Charlie wanted it to be kind of a dream world. The theme that life is basically pointless and no one actually enjoys it is a little hard to get behind. I guess it's about art reflecting life, too, but life is depressing enough that I don't need to watch a movie about how depressing life is.

I didn't get why they had a woman playing Ellen. And then he made up some life story for Ellen. The sets within sets were insane. I didn’t like how Hazel died the day after they got together, like they wanted you to feel like "it's so sad, they were about to finally be happy together." They wouldn't have been happy. I don't think Caden was capable of it, and he would've brought Hazel down with him. I guess at least Caden might think they would've been happy, so maybe his sadness is all you're supposed to feel.

I kind of liked the part where Sammy killed himself, and Caden just kept going "I didn't jump!" I guess there was some kind of side plot about the world falling apart, and Caden couldn't see it because he was so focused on the play. I made the mistake of watching the movie on a small screen, so I didn't really pick up on it. I noticed the blimp, and people wearing gas masks, and the "death in the family" sign, and people generally strewn all over the street, but I just chalked it up to the absurdity of the movie in general. I guess it could be cool to watch it again to look for things, but I certainly don't want to see it again. The best part of the whole thing was when it was finally over.

It does make you think, I guess, but I'm not really into thinking. It's definitely open to interpretation whether Caden's dead at any point. Something in the fiber of my being has a visceral reaction to ambiguity, though, so that doesn't make the movie any better for me. I would've loved a director's commentary to spell everything out.

No comments:

Post a Comment