Sure, it has a state's name in its title, but it ain't that. Charlie Kaufman's directorial debut, Synecdoche, New York, premiered at Cannes early this morning. Kaufman, of course, is the mad genius who wrote Being John Malkovich, Adaptation, Human Nature (his one misfire), and Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind. His new mind-bender is about an upstate New York theater director, played by Philip Seymour Hoffman, "whose life goes off the rails into uncharted artistic territory," in Variety critic Todd McCarthy's phrase. So, how is it? Well, the critics seem a bit befuddled, but overall, everything I've read leaves me even more excited to see it than before.
Variety: "A wildly ambitious and gravely serious contemplation of life, love, art, human decay and death, the film bears Kaufman's scripting fingerprints in its structural trickery and multi-plane storytelling. ... the picture exerts sufficient power and artistic mystery to pull the willing a fair way down its twisty trail, and a first-rate cast led by Philip Seymour Hoffman and some wonderful women provide a constant lifeline even when it's hard to know what's going on."
The New York Times: [Kaufman] has created a seamless and complicated alternate reality, unsettling nearly every expectation a moviegoer might have about time, psychology and narrative structure. But though the ideas that drive “Synecdoche, New York” are difficult and sometimes abstruse, the feelings it explores are clear and accessible. These include the anxiety of artistic creation, the fear of love and the dread of its loss, and the desperate sense that your life is rushing by faster than you can make sense of it. A sad story, yes, but fittingly for a movie bristling with paradoxes and conundrums, also extremely funny.
The movie doesn't have a U.S. distributor yet--here's hoping it finds one soon. Bonus: Below, enjoy a hilarious story about the single funniest scene in Being John Malkovich.