Synecdoche NY is Charlie Kaufman’s new movie about puns, self-analysis, the homunculus, and what it means to be alive in the anguish of self-awareness. So although it is his first time in the director’s chair it’s no stretch.
Caden Cotard is a theater director who does lavish productions of "Death of a Salesman." He is besotted by an assortment of diseases and array of disenfranchised lovers.
He wants to express himself meaningfully and produce something real but in order to do so, he must capture all of life’s essence, reproducing every facet of reality. And so his art becomes self-reflexive. There are multiple expressions of himself and actors who understand him better than he understands himself.
The movie gets a little long and down on itself as it grinds to the innermost nesting doll of its existence.
I think, ultimately, this film will be relegated to being “smart,” which is unfortunate. Because although it is smart, it is not pretentious. It is only pretending to be pretentious.