Films & Schedules

  • Synecdoche, New York

  • Charlie Kaufman

English, German
124 minutes

Production Company:
Sidney Kimmel Entertainment
Executive Producer:
William Horberg, Bruce Toll, Ray Angelic
Anthony Bregman, Charlie Kaufman, Spike Jonze, Sidney Kimmel
Charlie Kaufman
Production Designer:
Mark Friedberg
Fred Elmes
Robert Frazen
Drew Kunin
Jon Brion
Principal Cast: Philip Seymour Hoffman, Samantha Morton, Michelle Williams, Catherine Keener, Emily Watson, Dianne Wiest, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Hope Davis, Tom Noonan

Canadian Distributor:
Equinoxe Films
US Distributor:
Sony Pictures Classics
International Sales Agent:
Kimmel International

Tuesday September 0908:30PM WINTER GARDEN THEATRE Add Film to MyTIFF Filmlist
Thursday September 1112:15PM SCOTIABANK THEATRE 1 Add Film to MyTIFF Filmlist

Part dream, part puzzle, part brainteaser, the dazzling directorial debut from award-winning screenwriter Charlie Kaufman stars the inimitable Philip Seymour Hoffman as a theatre director who turns his every living moment into a play.

Hoffman plays Caden, whose problems include a failing marriage to Adele (Catherine Keener) and a career that is heading downhill fast. When Adele leaves him to pursue her own art career in Berlin, Caden throws himself into his new Broadway show. He creates a synecdoche of his life, in which a part stands for the whole. The film's narrative begins in Schenectady, New York, and the play between the two words is just one of countless ludic details that spring forth like sparks in this film.

As Caden attempts to fill his domestic void with dramatic recreations, he casts a lanky actor (Tom Noonan) as a near doppelgänger, a beautiful actress (Michelle Williams) as his wife and a quirky look-alike (Emily Watson) as his love interest, who in real life is an even quirkier box-office attendant named Hazel (Samantha Morton). As the players attempt to reproduce the goings-on in Caden's life at a 1:1 ratio, complications multiply. The real and the simulacrum start literally talking to one another, and Caden becomes both puppeteer and puppet on his own stage.

Hoffman is brilliant, embodying Caden's assorted neuroses and illnesses in heartbreaking detail. Kaufman, who has already demonstrated his genius for narrative play in the scripts for Being John Malkovich and Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, directs the story to more sober, ambitious territory here. There are ample moments of comic hysteria – Hazel's house is both poetically and literally on fire for much of the film – but ultimately this is a tale about all the big subjects: life, death, love and art. Though it begins with the clever conceit of art imitating life to an absurd degree, Synecdoche, New York rises to a symphonic level of philosophical reflection. This is the work of a major artist, and must be contended with as such.

Cameron Bailey

Charlie Kaufman was born in New York City and studied film at New York University. He has written several award-winning screenplays, including Being John Malkovich (99), Human Nature (01), Adaptation (02), Confessions of a Dangerous Mind (02) and Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (04). Synecdoche, New York (08) is his directorial debut.

Cadillac People's Choice Award