Daily Rushes

Raw and unedited points of view from a couple of film fanatics

5:24 PM

Synecdoche, New York

Posted by Jo |

Sure, I had high expectations. This was the director who crawled inside the mind of Malkovich, who created the first fictional Oscar nominee, and who was the brains behind the great Clementine Kruczynski.

And the reviews! Ebert called it a “film with the richness of great fiction” whose “surface will daunt you and depths will enfold you.” The Washington Post called it one of the best films of the year, the decade even. The Times' critic said that to call it one of the best films of the year was "such a pathetic response to its soaring ambition that I might as well pack it in right now."

So hey, I was a little disappointed to find that watching Synecdoche, New York, was like getting stuck at a party with a guy who bangs on about his philosophy thesis and Nietzsche and how we’re-all-just-extras-in-someone-else's-dream even as you stifle yawns and nod politely and inch closer to the cheese table.

It’s not that I hated it. The best of Kauffman is all there: the quirky humour, the grandiose ambition, and the refusal to be cowed by conventional notions of narrative, character or the whole, you know, time/space continuum. Hoffman and Keener are, as always, brilliant. He's all pug-faced and mournful and she's all wan and withering and it's a beautiful thing to see them on screen together again.

But it’s way too long and it needs stronger direction and it gets to a point where you’re shifting in your seat and furtively checking your watch and tiring of the audience members snickering at the four-hundredth reference to what small, self-absorbed creatures we all are.

And the burning house was just dumb. Sorry.