The Obscure Moon: Synecdoche, New York


synecdochepostertop***Do not read this blog entry if you have yet to see Synecdoche, New York, there are mild spoilers.*** Charlie Kaufman’s directorial debut Synecdoche, New York is as clever and complex as its title. Admittedly, I knew absolutely nothing about the film before seeing it 3 hours ago in Berkeley after spending a lovely Sunday cafe hopping with Ana (shout out to Guerilla Cafe and their one of a kind waffles and revolutionary ambiance, I got jokes for days). The truth is, no blurb or movie trailer would have appropriately prepared me for the epic, viscerally painful and jarringly incoherent journey I experienced and continue to experience even as I write this. At times, I found the spectator role/the act of “watching” nearly impossible to resolve which resulted in brief moments of insanity/paralysis. Kaufman implicates each audience member so deeply within the script (within scripts) that you start to write it…or it writes you, I’m not sure which comes first or if they somehow exist simultaneously. There was one particular monologue towards the end that felt so eerily familiar as if I had dreamt it or if the stuff of the monologue was some unspoken life contact we all signed at birth. I am searching desperately for the script to quote it exactly and carry it with me…it spoke about forever oscillating between vague regret and vaguer hope, our perpetual longing for one look, one letter, one phone call (that may or may not come) and our stubborn unwillingness to let go of fairytale endings (and beginnings) even in the face of utter despair and abandonment. Ironically, review after review only reinforces the truth of this monologue in their blind defense of coherence and cohesiveness. They predictably read: “impressed by its originality, but depressed by its lack of coherence and narrative flow.” Blah, blah, blah (it’s unfortunately reminiscent of many an argument I had back at Wesleyan about the ambitions of my thesis project). Ah yes, our (or some) compulsive need for coherence and narrative flow. Audiences hate to be left with uncertainty and in the case of Synecdoche, death (usually confused for despair). “I am dying, you are dying, we are all dying, we are all hurling ourselves towards death”. Illness transforms Caden’s (brought to life by the brilliant Phillip Seymour Hoffman) relationship to death and life and fantasy and reality and time and memory…it all collapses into one messy attempt to love and fulfill some abstract childhood dream. Even in it’s experimental, “incoherent” form, it remains brutally honest…and exposes the hoax of Logic, Rationality, Control, Reality. It reminds us of how fragile we really are…and how bold and brave we want to be. Honestly, it’s beyond any of these words, and I’m writing about it as an exercise to articulate my abstract/raw emotions…maybe I’ll feel differently about “it” tomorrow but that’s precisely what confounds and infuriates audiences: it cannot be reduced to a film with actors and a script…”it” feels alive? I’ll end here and hopefully one day I’ll be able to post the monologue that I found so disturbingly familiar. Last thing: don’t see Synecdoche, New York with your girlfriend or boyfriend and it’s definitely not first date material (unless you’re a fan of awkward intensity). I urge you to see it and tell me what you think now that I’ve shared my immediate reaction with you. Here’s the trailer:

2 Responses to “The Obscure Moon: Synecdoche, New York”
  1. Sarah says:

    “Everything is more complicated than you think. You only see a tenth of what is true. There are a million little strings attached to every choice you make. You can destroy your life every time you choose. But maybe you won’t know for twenty years! And you may never ever trace it to its source. And you only get one chance to play it out. Just try and figure out your own divorce.

    And they say there’s no fate, but there is, it’s what you create. And even though the world goes on for eons and eons, you are only here for a fraction of a fraction of a second. Most of your time is spent being dead, or not yet born. But while alive, you wait in vain wasting years for a phone call or a letter or a look from someone or something to make it all right, but it never comes. Or it seems to, but it doesn’t really.

    So you spend you time in vague regret or vaguer hope that something good will come along, something to make you feel connected, something to make you feel cherished, something to make you feel loved. And the truth is is, I feel so angry! And the truth is, I feel so fucking sad! And the truth is, I’ve felt so fucking hurt for so fucking long and for just as long, I’ve been pretending I’m okay, just to get along!

    I don’t know why. Maybe because no one wants to hear about my misery because they have their own. Well, fuck everybody. Amen “

  2. Sarah says:

    I know exactly what you meant about the familiarity of that monologue. That’s what brought me to your blog, looking for it, and back here to post it when I finally did find it. Something about it rang so true.

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