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Kaufman's "Synedoche, New York" premiers as Competition film

© Abbot GENSER

This morning I woke bright and early to attend the 8:30 screening of Charlie Kaufman's Synedoche, New York. Being familiar with Kaufman's resume gave me some expectations of the film, and I wasn't far off with my predictions; like in his previous screenplays, Kaufman explores the boundary separating reality and imagination within the creative mind of Philip Seymour Hoffman's character, Caden.

Caden is a theater director who's health is quickly (or slowly, as time is a flexible variable within the dimension of the story) deteriorating from the first scene of the film. He decides to use all of his remaining physical and creative energy to recreate New York in a warehouse as his theatrical masterpiece for civilization. Predictably, his life and relationships completely falls apart as he (and the audience) become more and more entangled in performing reality.

If this synopsis is too complicated to extrapolate what really happens in the film, you are getting a good idea of what the film is like.

While the idea Kaufman explores is engaging and leaves you thinking long after the end of the film, the story continues for too long without providing anymore answers as to what is reality. Hoffman and Catherine Keener's (Caden's wife) performances are wonderful, especially considering the complexity of the passage of time in the film. Their relationship is believable at all stages of the film, even when Keener becomes a big shot artist in Germany.

Although Synedoche, New York may have been a tad too complex for me at 8:30 in the morning, it was overall a well developed film that fits with the rest of Kaufman's work as well as the style of the Festival.

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