Synecdoche, New York

Philip Seymour Hoffman and Samantha Morton in Synecdoche, New York (dir. Charlie Kaufman, 2008).

The heading for one of the message board threads at the IMDb page for Synecdoche, New York reads, "Maybe this makes more sense to atheists."

Honey, nothing makes sense to atheists. That's the way we like it.

I am left deeply unsatisfied, nevertheless, by the incoherence of the frivolous Schenectady/synecdoche pun out of which I cannot but imagine the film initially sprang as an improvised whim. This dissatisfaction, in fact, is itself a synecdoche for my more general misgivings about Charlie Kaufman. Yes, I was entertained by the movie, even moved at times, but I could never quite get past the way it broadcast its sense of itself as the work of an intrepid junior genius. Prodigal precociousness became Being John Malkovich; a decade later, it smacks a little of wishful thinking.

And yet the perennially-on-fire apartment is a lovely metaphor, both humorous and haunting, and there are a number of these touches throughout.

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