Films of the decade: "Synecdoche, New York"

Charlie Kaufman's directing debut mixes devastating psychodrama and 21st-century social portraiture

By Andrew Grant
December 16, 2009 1:15AM (UTC)
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A still from "Synedoche, New York"

It was around the 30-minute mark in "Synecdoche, New York" that I realized I was watching a film that seemed tailor-made for me. Much more than mere self-identification with its lead character, here was a film for which I knew objectivity would be impossible, for each scene hit me on a gut level, or deeper. A midlife crisis story situated at the intersection of art and real life, Charlie Kaufman’s directorial debut ventures deep into the psychological, examining and showing the "life of the mind" (and its consequences) in a way that no film ever quite managed to, while at the same time grappling with the big issues -- life, love, aging and death. Yet it's a film very much about the here-and-now, and in decades it will be studied in the same way we dissect 1950s melodramas, seeking subtext that reveals more about the era. "Synecdoche, New York" is a perfect snapshot of where our heads were at in these early years of the 21st century.

Film Salon has invited a group of special guests to write about their favorite film(s) of the 2000s. To read the entire series, go here.

Andrew Grant

Andrew Grant recently skipped town to live, work and write on a remote tropical island, which is perfectly rational adult behavior.

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