If we chroniquons this movie, 8 years later, it is to try to unravel the mystery of CHARLIE KAUFMAN – if that was possible – before the release of his next feature film Anomalisa, February 3, 2016.

We continue our exploration of the filmography of the author, we stopped here in 2008. Return, therefore, on SYNECDOCHE, NEW YORK released in April 2009 in France. The sun begins to point the tip of his nose, and Charlie Kaufman comes to talk to us about these concerns the more obscure, this alone, but we’ll get to later.

After working with his cronies, Spike Jonze and Michel Gondry, SYNECDOCHE, NEW YORK is the first feature film in which Charlie Kaufman is also a producer in addition to being a screenwriter. However, it should be noted that Spike Jonze had to again direct the film, but occupied by Max and Maximonstres, he was ultimately not involved in the project. If we begin now to touch on the personality of the man , Kaufman and not the author (but is there a real difference between the two ?), we imagine that this passage of scripture, the realization was stressful, or even neurotic ?

Now we get into the film. We are now accustomed to the scenarios for the less distinctive – not to say completely WTF – that we simmers Charlie Kaufman and SYNECDOCHE,NEW YORK does not derogate from it. We are going to follow for two hours, Caden Cotard, a theatre director, he is the author of a typical room in the suburbs of New York. Tired by the routine of his life, his wife, Adele, leaves him to pursue her painting career in Berlin, taking with her their little girl, Olive. The victim of a disease attacking his nervous system, pressed by the fear of dying prematurely, Caden decides to leave everything and gather a few actors in a giant warehouse in New York for the purpose of creating a unique work of art and grandiose. SYNECDOCHE, NEW YORK is with Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, the mark susceptible to the master that take the creations Kaufmanienne. This depression – we’ll see if Anomalisa is also moving on this register – is indicative of the man and his obsessions, like his characters and he uses them skillfully to show us his messages, his fears and his questioning of the metaphysical.

Is well known, and yet it is inexorable. With old age comes illness and occasionally death, which penetrate insidiously into our lives. Close relatives, the circle of our friends, we no longer see the time passed and soon, our turn will come. Early in the film, we see this relationship with death that is going to maintain throughout the film, the character of Caden, played with all the skill of the legendary Philip Seymour Hoffman. Man worn down by a mysterious illness and obsessed with the idea of a near death, one does not count the number of times he stabbed desperately “I’m afraid to die”. It is as well as Charlie Kaufman expresses his fears and makes her characters terribly endearing, constantly caught up by their conditions of humans. After all, we are only mere mortals. All of the neuroses of Charlie Kaufman on the end expresses itself through Caden, who absolutely must leave its trace, with the presentiment that it, too, it’s going to happen.

“Total work of art, worn by questioning the philosophical fundamental and existential. A film of a dark beauty, dizzying and fascinating, Charlie Kaufman submits here a cornerstone of his filmography.”

It is also a question of time and especially of perception of time in SYNECDOCHE, NEW YORK. In passing, we should acknowledge the artistic direction for the quality of the makeup and other special effects used to age the actors. It is, in fact, the only way to identify in the mural timeline of the film. It is very difficult to follow the labyrinth of time, is distorting at the discretion of the scenes. An element that can be found elsewhere in Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind with its narrative broke out. Unit intangible, the time is deformed and forced to wait for the return of the loved one, refusing to invest in any new relationship, Caden laments on his loneliness. Sad ode to the passing of time, SYNECDOCHE, NEW YORK arrives to lead the questioning and shakes us viscerally.

Where the genius of Kaufman is going to manifest itself, beyond the undeniable quality of its scenario, it is in the gimmick of the mise en abyme, it is recognized as Kaufmanienne since Adaptation and In the Skin of John Malkovich. Wonderful scene, brimming with inventiveness and achieving dynamic, Charlie Kaufman, in the same way that Caden, will create a grandiose work. In this film, Caden is going to stage his own life. In this huge warehouse, Caden is going to do to build buildings and roads. In his choice of actors and extras, Caden will recreate any work of his social relationships, a kind of SIMS to real scale. Caden is going to measure his failures, analyze his life through this life 2.0. The reflection is therefore pushed to its paroxysm. What can we improve in our life if we take the time to analyze it without hiding the face ? Can we understand our huge misfire ? What can we say to people who have marked our lives before it is too late ? All questions metaphysical worn by the meaning of the allegory and the mise en abyme, which it is incumbent upon everyone to observe with hindsight, its own judgment. By this process, and also by his direction of the actors, Charlie Kaufman built a empathy the most with the viewer.

In our article devoted to Adaptation, Georgeslechameau indicates, that he has “the impression that paradoxical to see a designer having fun with his puppets (cf Malkovich & Anomalisa) and minimizes significantly the impact that would have had to have the film, absolutely brilliant in its logic analytico-cathartic. The intellectual effort to provide order to enjoy it is in my opinion a little too off-topic compared to the pleasure of crude that comes from the film, leading to this feeling of frustration in the end.” It is, however, the exact opposite that is producing Charlie Kaufman in SYNECDOCHE, NEW YORK. Through the theatre and with human puppets, the author always puts in scene (Caden or Charlie Kaufman, we will leave it to the reader to enjoy). Here, the anti-frustration and empathy is de facto created sustainably with the viewer.

Feel alive and in turmoil through the prism of these characters and the mise en abyme, this is probably where lies the essence of the work. A unique moment that offers us SYNECDOCHE, NEW YORK, total work of art inhabited by questioning fundamental philosophical and existential. A film of a dark beauty, dizzying and fascinating, Charlie Kaufman submits here a cornerstone of his filmography. Beautifully depressive, incredibly rich and skillfully directed, SYNECDOCHE, NEW YORK, is a cruel truth.



Criticism of the films scripted and directed by Charlie Kaufman

In the skin of John Malkovitch (1999)

Human Nature (2001)

Confessions of a Dangerous Man (2002)

Adaptation. (2002)

Eternal Sunshine of The Spotless Mind (2004)

Synecdoche New York (2008)

Anomalisa (2016)



Original title : Synecdoche, New York

Achievement : Charlie Kaufman

Screenplay : Charlie Kaufman

Main actors : Philip Seymour Hoffman, Catherine Keener, Samantha Morton

Country of origin : United States

Output : 1 April 2009

Duration : 2: 05 min

Distributor : Ocean Films

Synopsis : Caden Cotard, a theatre director, is mounting a new play. But to work for an audience of little old in an obscure theatre in a suburb of New York city seem dull. His wife, Adele, has left to pursue his painting career in Berlin, taking with her their little girl, Olive. Madeleine, psy, is more busy doing the promo of his new book to relieve their anxieties. His liaison with a beautiful and naive young woman, Hazel, was cut short. And it is plagued by a mysterious disease that attacks his nervous system.

Pressed by the fear of dying prematurely, Caden decides to leave everything. Aspiring to create a work of absolute integrity, he gathers a few actors in a warehouse in New York. He brings to the stage in a celebration of the ordinary, asking each person to live an artificial life in a scale model of the city…

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