Theater director Caden Cotard (Philip Seymour Hoffman) is mounting a new play. Fresh off of a successful production of Death of a Salesman, he has traded in the suburban blue-hairs and regional theater of Schenectady for the cultured audiences and bright footlights of Broadway. Armed with a MacArthur grant and determined to create a piece of brutal realism and honesty, something into which he can put his whole self, he gathers an ensemble cast into a warehouse in Manhattan’s theater district. He directs them in a celebration of the mundane, instructing each to live out their constructed lives in a small mockup of the city outside. As the city inside the warehouse grows, Caden’s own life veers wildly off the tracks. The shadow of his ex-wife Adele (Catherine Keener), a celebrated painter who left him years ago for Germany’s art scene, sneers at him from every corner. Somewhere in Berlin, his daughter Olive is growing up under the questionable guidance of Adele’s friend, Maria (Jennifer Jason Leigh). He’s helplessly driving his marriage to actress Claire (Michelle Williams) into the ground. Sammy Barnathan (Tom Noonan), the actor Caden has hired to play himself within the play, is a bit too perfect for the part, and is making it difficult for Caden to revive his relationship with the alluringly candid Hazel (Samantha Morton). Meanwhile, his therapist, Madeline Gravis (Hope Davis), is better at plugging her best-seller than she is at counseling him. His is second daughter, Ariel, is retarded. And a mysterious condition is systematically shutting down each of his autonomic functions, one by one. As the years rapidly pass, Caden buries himself deeper into his masterpiece. Populating the cast and crew with doppelgangers, he steadily blurs the line between the world of the play and that of his own deteriorating reality. As he pushes the limits of his relationships, both personally and professionally, a change in creative direction arrives in Millicent Weems, a celebrated theater actress who may offer Caden the break he needs. By seamlessly blending together subjective point-of-views with traditional narrative structures, writer/director Charlie Kaufman has created a world of superbly unsteady footing. His richly developed cast of characters flutter between moments of warm intimacy and frightful insecurity, creating a script that brings to life all the complex and beautiful nuances of shared life and artistic creation. Synecdoche, New York is as its definition states: a part of the whole or the whole used for the part, the general for the specific, the specific for the general. —IMDb
He first came to mainstream notice as the writer of Being John Malkovich (directed by Spike Jonze), earning an Oscar nomination for his effort and winning a BAFTA. He also wrote Human Nature, which was directed by Michel Gondry, and then worked with Jonze again as the screenwriter for Adaptation., which earned him another Oscar nomination and his second BAFTA. Adaptation. featured a “Charlie Kaufman” character who is a heavily fictionalized version of the screenwriter and who has an “identical twin brother,” Donald, a sell-out screenwriter reflecting Kaufman’s anxieties about Hollywood. The DVD edition of Adaptation. contains a filmography which lists Donald Kaufman as having written the screenplay for the movie. The credits of the film close with the words “in loving memory of Donald Kaufman”.
Kaufman also penned the screenplay for Confessions of a Dangerous Mind, a biopic based on the “unauthorized autobiography” of Chuck Barris, the creator of such popular game shows as The… read more
Sometimes it's so hard writing about what you just saw. I have mixed feelings about this one. I didn't like it up until the point where the fantasy crossed into reality in a big flashy style. From then on, it was a delight. Overall, the word best to describe it would be 'alive'. The film felt alive - annoying, boring, honest, beautiful, confusing, and simple - all at the same time.
Charlie Kaufman knows how to tell a story, because he has stories to tell. This is a wonderful example of a film about humanity and our own role in the world. At some point, Shakespeare is mentioned, and with that I think it's fair thing to say that the world is, indeed, a stage.
Each of the Notebook's writers were given the opportunity to submit their ten favorite films of 2008 given at least a week's theatrical run
I’ve always admired Charlie Kaufman’s work, Being John Malkovich, Adaptation are some of his best movies. Philip Seymour Hoffman has truly outdone himself in this epic. I feel that it is his best performance… read review
Admittedly this was not an easy film to enjoy. Much of it is tedious, and the occasional surreal touches serve to make it claustrophobic. Many critics contest whether it even succeeds as entertainment;… read review
I love Philip Seymour Hoffman. Even though something about him makes me feel physically sick (maybe it’s the way he looks, I can’t quite put my finger on it) I think he’s one of the best actors around… read review