Wednesday, 20 May 2009

Synecdoche New York - May 2009


Introspection mixed with confusion, and then the swirling somewhat forced suspension of disbelief. This film, that I can’t pronounce- Synecdoche New York, Synecdoche meaning; ahem... ‘a figure of speech in which the word for part of something is used to mean the whole, e.g. 'sail' for 'boat', or vice versa’. I don’t think I have ever used that word before, but when you watch the film, what it means makes sense. I get the feeling that I am already making little sense myself in these words. I blame the film for this. I have never in my years spent sitting on red velvety flip seats, ever heard so little noise emit from an audience at the end of a film. When I sat down I was next to a loved up couple that were absolutely Sunday stoned. They were giggling, the guy at some points outright laughing. And at the beginning the film certainly was pretty funny. The lead actor, Philip Seymour Hoffman is comical, and Charlie Kaufman’s films have a painfully, startlingly truthful comedy about them. Quite black, but so good/to the bone, it’s funny and hurts a little in equal amounts. As the film progressed, however the laughs became more sporadic, turning increasingly to sighs, exasperation, and sadness. By the time the film was over, Mr and Mrs Romantically Stoned were static and silent. Black, that’s what this film is, a black hole, or a blank slate. Essentially saying ‘we all live in our own little bubbles, where we are the centre of our story’, what’s yours? You decide. The protagonist, the hero, the God, the one you want everything to work out for the most. PSH plays a theatre director with a terrible sense of impending doom. Of his death, the end of it all, he awaited life, now is waiting for death. So much so, that at the back of my mind there sat a little fairy dressed in black whispering ‘are you Ok?, Could you be dying right now too, as something small attacks, tap, tap, tap?’ Errrrm. It is all encompassing, this world of tragedy, fear and occasional love, punctuated by subtle bits of humour. You the audience are seeing the life of Caden as he sees it, and as a theatre director would see it. Caden is trying to recreate authenticity, whilst fiction blurs with fantasy, as he attempts to make sense of his melancholic life- on a life size stage. Some parts are genius fantastical realism, for example the character of Hazel – she just IS fantastical realism, her house consistently on fire throughout the film, smouldering, and burning as she buys it, ‘it’s a big decision to decide where you will die’. The film is a theatre, allowing fantasy, and a reminder that we are all in our own theatres. Inside our own heads, living with our own thoughts, own actions and dreams. It is an acknowledgement to life, and living yours. And of course, that every one person is as important as the next person. Thinking about it afterwards, I concluded haphazardly that you are as special as you think that you are, because it is you that has to think and believe it. You are not dying. But you could, so appreciate your show.

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