User Score
7.7

Generally favorable reviews- based on 197 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Negative: 35 out of 197
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  1. Nov 17, 2010
    10
    Beautifully complex. You'll catch something new each time you watch it. Charlie Kaufman cements himself as the best screenwriter out there. Best movie of the decade and one of the best of all times.
  2. Feb 7, 2012
    10
    This is a film I could watch over and over again and see something new each time. The film is so complex and masterfully built but it is also intimate and touching. Synechdoche new york is one of the only films I cry during every time I see it. However the film is not depressing it is sad, but at the heart of the story there is also lots of comedy. Overall the film works on every levelThis is a film I could watch over and over again and see something new each time. The film is so complex and masterfully built but it is also intimate and touching. Synechdoche new york is one of the only films I cry during every time I see it. However the film is not depressing it is sad, but at the heart of the story there is also lots of comedy. Overall the film works on every level imaginable and it is one of the best movies of all time Expand
  3. Nov 29, 2013
    10
    This is one of those movies that will make you rethink your whole life. It also has a lot of room for interpretation, which is something I find fascinating in movies and always will.
  4. TrevorS.
    Apr 10, 2009
    10
    You either get it or you don't. as we see from the scoring. i watched it 3 times in the theatre and once so far on DVD and am still just understanding it. but the first time i thought this seems important to me to understand. if you don't like it i can understand why.
  5. trevorj
    Mar 4, 2009
    9
    Why is there so much talk of depression? Is this really an issue? Is depression really a topic that can't be touched by film. It's depressing to read comments that devalue a film because it evokes emotions they don't want to face up to. In reality cinema should be able to confront these emotions honestly, as they are a part of real life. Those who feel that movies Why is there so much talk of depression? Is this really an issue? Is depression really a topic that can't be touched by film. It's depressing to read comments that devalue a film because it evokes emotions they don't want to face up to. In reality cinema should be able to confront these emotions honestly, as they are a part of real life. Those who feel that movies can't explore darker emotions have unrealistic and derogatory expectations of film and most likely, life in general. Expand
  6. KristinS
    Apr 18, 2009
    10
    I find it hard to believe anyone rated this under 9. I just saw it on a recommendation and it's simply exquisite. It's the first movie that has ever made me cry (twice!). While a downer at times, some might say overall, I came away from this film with joy -life is short, so every moment is beautiful.
  7. NeilL
    Mar 25, 2009
    10
    Excellent. In certain respects much like Lynch's "Inland Empire", but from a very different perspective of course. Similarly misunderstood, too.
  8. MatthewG
    May 29, 2009
    10
    There is a difference between a film being depressing and a film being sad. Synecdoche New york has a handful of desperately sad and stark moments, but depressing? Definitely not. It's enlightening and uplifiting. It takes a while to get going but the movie's finale is utterly shattering. If you're comfortable with the view that your life begins and ends with the There is a difference between a film being depressing and a film being sad. Synecdoche New york has a handful of desperately sad and stark moments, but depressing? Definitely not. It's enlightening and uplifiting. It takes a while to get going but the movie's finale is utterly shattering. If you're comfortable with the view that your life begins and ends with the here-and-now, this is a movie that will confirm and comfort you. I will be seeing it again soon. Expand
  9. MayaG
    Sep 12, 2009
    10
    Tedious, boring, pointless??? this movie is not for the impatient, short-attention spanned, shallow-thinking average american viewer. it's a puzzle, a poem, a work of art--expansive and condensed, all at once. so detailed it must be read rather than watched (over and over again. and each reading yields something new). thank god for charlie kaufman. he's one of the few that Tedious, boring, pointless??? this movie is not for the impatient, short-attention spanned, shallow-thinking average american viewer. it's a puzzle, a poem, a work of art--expansive and condensed, all at once. so detailed it must be read rather than watched (over and over again. and each reading yields something new). thank god for charlie kaufman. he's one of the few that fights the true tedium in american cinema today--the humdrum, paint-by-number, blockbuster crap that passes for film. Expand
  10. LarryB
    Sep 13, 2009
    10
    This film is beautiful. It has captured the workings of the mind over the course of a life, magically compressed into roughly two hours. Of course it is sad. People who complain about how 'depressing' it is have no interest in film as an illuminating art form; they only want shallow escapism. So, the film isn't for everyone. Yet it is not just sad. It also illustrates the This film is beautiful. It has captured the workings of the mind over the course of a life, magically compressed into roughly two hours. Of course it is sad. People who complain about how 'depressing' it is have no interest in film as an illuminating art form; they only want shallow escapism. So, the film isn't for everyone. Yet it is not just sad. It also illustrates the humor of its situations perfectly. After all, comedy is tragedy flipped upside down. This movie is not a head trip for the sake of being a head trip, as some claim. It is sensitive in its exploration of the psyche. It does have a heart. It's just that the heart gets broken. Expand
  11. HugoT
    Jun 27, 2009
    10
    First, it's OK with me if you didn't find this to be an excellent movie because, frankly, I have nothing against the dead.
  12. Aug 16, 2010
    5
    Very, very polarizing. There are parts of this film that are simply extravagant, then there are parts that are quite tedious and poorly represented. I found this movie about life and time more boring and rambling than anything, but there's so much great poetry within its message, that it's hard for me to completely dismiss it. This film feels more like a dream of random thoughts andVery, very polarizing. There are parts of this film that are simply extravagant, then there are parts that are quite tedious and poorly represented. I found this movie about life and time more boring and rambling than anything, but there's so much great poetry within its message, that it's hard for me to completely dismiss it. This film feels more like a dream of random thoughts and events, and needed to be redone into something more sturdy and comprehensible, rather than just messing with everyone's minds with its sadist vision. Expand
  13. Jul 27, 2013
    0
    i gave up the third time a character in this film discussed the colour of excrement. I think it sums it up as scatological gibberish. It may well be one of the best american independent movies but that says more about the state of US cinema than it does about this tedious self-indulgent nonsense. Hard to say what's more depressing the film itself or the amount of time, talent and moneyi gave up the third time a character in this film discussed the colour of excrement. I think it sums it up as scatological gibberish. It may well be one of the best american independent movies but that says more about the state of US cinema than it does about this tedious self-indulgent nonsense. Hard to say what's more depressing the film itself or the amount of time, talent and money wasted on making it. Expand
  14. WalterEgo
    Nov 9, 2008
    2
    A torture to sit through. The only relief for me came when Hoffman attacks the grating Jennifer Jason Leigh and her awful German accent. Unfortunately, he doesn't kill her and she escapes through the hole in a fence, no doubt to turn up unwelcome again some other near unwatchable "indie" film and twist her lips into funny shapes. This film has already been made: Watch A torture to sit through. The only relief for me came when Hoffman attacks the grating Jennifer Jason Leigh and her awful German accent. Unfortunately, he doesn't kill her and she escapes through the hole in a fence, no doubt to turn up unwelcome again some other near unwatchable "indie" film and twist her lips into funny shapes. This film has already been made: Watch Fassbinder's "Berlin Alexanderplatz" to see how it was done the right way. Expand
  15. GeneS.
    Jan 4, 2009
    0
    As you can see there is quite a stark contrast between what the "reviewers" think of this movie and what people in the "real world" think of this mess. Can I give it zero stars? I wanted to like this movie. Really, I did. The cast is first rate and it started out interestingly enough. But the movie decends into a muddled, meandering mess. And talk about depressing! The story within a As you can see there is quite a stark contrast between what the "reviewers" think of this movie and what people in the "real world" think of this mess. Can I give it zero stars? I wanted to like this movie. Really, I did. The cast is first rate and it started out interestingly enough. But the movie decends into a muddled, meandering mess. And talk about depressing! The story within a story within a story is worthy of exploration but the use of symbolism and allegory to such an extreme, combined with the fact that the story (if you want to call it that) is VERY depressing and ultimately fruitless ---- well, I really wish I had that 2 plus hours back in my life. What a compete, utter, total waste of time. The fact that I'm even thinking about it now angers me but I figured if I can spare others from my misfortune, maybe some good has come out of it. How this movie even got made is a mystery for the ages. Expand
  16. WookieS
    Mar 11, 2009
    0
    Worst movie I've seen ages. Watching paint dry would've been a lot more entertaining and useful than wasting 45 minutes of my life with this (couldn't stay any longer). Kauffman should realize he is a screenwriter and stick to it.
  17. FAKKer
    Apr 15, 2009
    1
    I can almost always find something to like even in the worst of films but this time I drew a blank. This was probably the first time I couldn't watch a whole film at once. I don't get why this movie was made and I don't understand how it was allowed to me made. Pointless drivel that I wish I could purge completely from my brain. Perfect for the masochist.
  18. asmith
    Nov 22, 2008
    3
    Circuitous, self indulgent, melodramatic masturbation. A loosely stung together, incoherent narrative. Rather than admit that they can't quite put it together, people just pretend that it's profound.
  19. JeffK
    Nov 24, 2008
    0
    Perfect example of the fact that weird doesn't necessarily mean deep.
  20. AngelaS.
    Nov 26, 2008
    1
    Too lugubrious, what is the point of the story? Characters didn't come alive. Poor man's Woody Allen.
  21. JayH
    Mar 12, 2009
    3
    I just deplore these pretentious artsy-fartsy movies. The cast seems to be sleepwalking through this one, even Philip Seymour Hoffman is boring. Way overlong, the scattered story is poorly developed. Rubbish. I am not at all a fan of Charlie Kaufman.
  22. PeterK.
    Mar 15, 2009
    2
    More French cinema stylings done by Americans. Too long, too overdone, too many other things to waste time doing than watching repetitive existentialist doppelgangers "making art".
  23. JackL.
    Nov 14, 2008
    1
    This is what happens when faux intellectuals in Hollywood read a little existential philosophy and post modern theory at Brown and think they are geniuses because they get high in their Lexus while driving on the 10 and only speak to the sycophants that surround them in the solipsism of their Lexus while driving on the 10 in Hollywood and being stoned. Talladaga Nights is a deeper movie This is what happens when faux intellectuals in Hollywood read a little existential philosophy and post modern theory at Brown and think they are geniuses because they get high in their Lexus while driving on the 10 and only speak to the sycophants that surround them in the solipsism of their Lexus while driving on the 10 in Hollywood and being stoned. Talladaga Nights is a deeper movie about the artistic process than this crap. Expand
  24. MelissaP.
    Nov 23, 2008
    1
    I saw this movie in Bethesda MD last night. I believe it was the worst movie I
  25. MattB
    Nov 24, 2008
    0
    A string of non sequiturs under a blanket of cynicism.
  26. tj
    Nov 26, 2008
    1
    The film starts very well. Hoffman is terrific and his neuroses and interactions with his wife and family are absurd, but seem like exaggerations of the human condition--and there is humor. If Kaufman had simply stuck with showing this family develop he might have had something. The movie then gets stupidly complicated (that passes for clever apparently). I have this feeling that people The film starts very well. Hoffman is terrific and his neuroses and interactions with his wife and family are absurd, but seem like exaggerations of the human condition--and there is humor. If Kaufman had simply stuck with showing this family develop he might have had something. The movie then gets stupidly complicated (that passes for clever apparently). I have this feeling that people who are a little bit smart figure "oh this is getting complex, so there must be something profound going on." Well, there isn't. And Kaufman's characters endlessly talk and tell, rather than show. Characters become less and less human. All humor and human feeling are gone by the time the movie is an hour old and then it just circles and circles endlessly down the drain. Expand
  27. WillT.
    Nov 29, 2008
    1
    The only reason I gave this film a 1 is that it could be used as an implement of torture at Guantanamo Base and may well result in valuable intelligence from the detainees there. At least I was ready to spill it all during this grotesquerie. Perhaps the director (and I use that term gingerly) should be indicted on the charge of being so full of himself that he endangers the rest of us The only reason I gave this film a 1 is that it could be used as an implement of torture at Guantanamo Base and may well result in valuable intelligence from the detainees there. At least I was ready to spill it all during this grotesquerie. Perhaps the director (and I use that term gingerly) should be indicted on the charge of being so full of himself that he endangers the rest of us with an explosion of his own ego. At Guantanamo that could be just the kind of threat that will destroy a man's last defenses. Expand
  28. LaurenD.
    Nov 29, 2008
    2
    Charlie Kaufman was tragically misguided in his directorial debut; even the brilliant cast couldn't save Synecdoche, NY from such unfortunate treachory. It's really a shame to see a film with so much potential just fall all over itself creating a heaping mess that can't possibly end soon enough.
  29. peterm
    Apr 24, 2009
    2
    I too can barely believe this got made, or at least that the distributor didn't demand that it be substantially shortened. seymour hoffman is great and the early scenes are promising. but it becomes so ridiculous and so un-related to the reality of anyone who's not a writer without economic constraints that it is a complete waste of time. its a shame; 'adaptation', I too can barely believe this got made, or at least that the distributor didn't demand that it be substantially shortened. seymour hoffman is great and the early scenes are promising. but it becomes so ridiculous and so un-related to the reality of anyone who's not a writer without economic constraints that it is a complete waste of time. its a shame; 'adaptation', particularly shows kaufman can produce genius, but what this film says about his mental state right now is worrying. Expand
  30. JJones
    Jun 24, 2009
    3
    Oh my gosh this is a tedious and depressing movie. I usually go head first into these types of films (I greatly enjoyed David Lynch's challenging Inland Empire), but I just couldn't take it. This movie seems to have no reason to live other than to obsessively, repeatedly, depressingly explore a tragic and possibly psychotic worldview. This film has many fans which will gladly Oh my gosh this is a tedious and depressing movie. I usually go head first into these types of films (I greatly enjoyed David Lynch's challenging Inland Empire), but I just couldn't take it. This movie seems to have no reason to live other than to obsessively, repeatedly, depressingly explore a tragic and possibly psychotic worldview. This film has many fans which will gladly dole out shallow judgment upon those who will not submit to this whiny, annoying movie, but I submit that they are either in love with the idea of such a film (and not the film itself) or they are so desensitized that it takes this kind of horror-disguised-as-drama to get through. I am sooooo tired of blue color-cast, shoe-gazing films about how terrible the human experience is. Heck, even the shows and commercials on TV all seem to be turning blue just to follow suit. Just because you are depressed, psychotic and have a large budget does not mean you have the right to inflict such a monstrosity on the public. Expand
  31. TerenceS.
    Nov 21, 2008
    0
    This movie is one of the worst shows that I have ever seen. Even in most horrible movies there's an element of camp. This has none. Don't bother with trying to find a point to it, I'll save you a trip, it has no point. Metacritic, you really let me down on this one. The movie itself is just a thrown together bundle of crap, that is probably just Kaufman expressing all of This movie is one of the worst shows that I have ever seen. Even in most horrible movies there's an element of camp. This has none. Don't bother with trying to find a point to it, I'll save you a trip, it has no point. Metacritic, you really let me down on this one. The movie itself is just a thrown together bundle of crap, that is probably just Kaufman expressing all of his own fears. I can only think of one reason Kaufman decided to direct it himself. Every self respecting director probably looked at the script and said, "There is no way I can make a movie out of this." Kaufman tries to combine elements of Jungian concepts, borrows imagry from an over used Shakespearian expression, and the movie suffers from Kaufman's own now over inflated ego. Expand
  32. Oct 17, 2011
    6
    I felt Synecdoche, New York was an unrealised masterpiece. The film's themes and characters came together in a powerful and moving way toward the end of the film, and there were a number of great moments. However, for every great scene, there were poorly executed and drawing-out ones. Much of the film was pretty average.

    The film's themes ended well, but were a mess for the most part.
    I felt Synecdoche, New York was an unrealised masterpiece. The film's themes and characters came together in a powerful and moving way toward the end of the film, and there were a number of great moments. However, for every great scene, there were poorly executed and drawing-out ones. Much of the film was pretty average.

    The film's themes ended well, but were a mess for the most part. The themes of tragedy, depression, sickness, and aging are relevant, but in the film are often excessive, and unnecessarily unpleasant. The many crude bathroom scenes, for example, do not contribute to these themes in a meaningful way.

    I generally appreciate complex and surreal films, and I love some of Kaufman's other work. However, I felt this film was held together rather loosely. The surreal elements were creative, but felt just a bit out of place.

    In the end, the film came across to me as being a bit like a tattered gown of former extravagance. It was dotted with gems, but between the gems is a mess.
    Expand
  33. Aug 27, 2010
    5
    Charlie Kaufman's directorial debut is an sprawling look at the paradox of translating introversion into expression, and this is by no means an original notion - just look at 8 1/2, Adaptation (written by Kaufman), Barton Fink, Inland Empire etc. etc. (hell, it might as well be its own genre...) Naturally, the product being a jumbled mess just comes with the territory, but I feel thatCharlie Kaufman's directorial debut is an sprawling look at the paradox of translating introversion into expression, and this is by no means an original notion - just look at 8 1/2, Adaptation (written by Kaufman), Barton Fink, Inland Empire etc. etc. (hell, it might as well be its own genre...) Naturally, the product being a jumbled mess just comes with the territory, but I feel that 'Synecdoche' especially lacks the cohesiveness to convey anything more than abstraction - and least of all does it try for profundity. Unfortunately, Kaufman's writing is completely to blame because everything else here is pitch perfect - the casting/acting, the set, the sound editing all complement the ideas and mood throughout the film. What Kaufman needs to learn is that not all ideas are good, and to stick so many of them all so heedlessly into a movie and try to legitimize doing so with the title 'Synecdoche' is an insult to the viewers. I'll just stick with 8 1/2, thank you. Expand
  34. Jan 18, 2013
    7
    The movie lost me at the end of the first hour. And I couldn't care less about that! I simply relaxed and let the plot, the haunting but sad characters, the over-complicated narrative to lead me. Accompanied by wonderful but sad score, ever confusing dialogue, non-coherent gorgeous cinematic sequences and over the top performance by the daring P.S. Hoffman, at times you may be able to makeThe movie lost me at the end of the first hour. And I couldn't care less about that! I simply relaxed and let the plot, the haunting but sad characters, the over-complicated narrative to lead me. Accompanied by wonderful but sad score, ever confusing dialogue, non-coherent gorgeous cinematic sequences and over the top performance by the daring P.S. Hoffman, at times you may be able to make the ends meet, but that's so unnecessary. I don't need to "understand" this film. I feel it. The movie refuses to offer you consistency and dramatic coherence. Yes, you are free to build it your self but that's also unnecessary. Kaufman's messy directorial debut is definitely not the work of genius, that's for sure. Even better, it is the work of rare surrealist and storyteller. In a world in which Lynch refuses to make another film (for now), Synecdoche is a welcoming work that will surely satisfy your appetite for deeply emotional nothingness. Expand
  35. Nov 9, 2012
    1
    I love Philip Seymour Hoffman. That being said, this is long and confusing. It is a convoluted cluster-f**k of overly-ambitious ideas and poor directing. The plot of this...this...thing is the equivalent to the nonsensical ramblings that spill from a homeless man's mouth as he succumbs to dementia on the street corner. In short, Synecdoche, New York is a frustrating waste of time.
  36. MichaelS.
    Oct 30, 2008
    7
    Holy Meta Batman!! This movie made me feel so crazy when it was finally all said and done that I give most of these points for trying to do something really big and existential. Kudos to Charlie for writing this mad-hatter piece of work. Hopefully his director skills will catch up with his writing brilliance at some point.
  37. RoryC.
    Jan 2, 2009
    10
    this movie was released in maybe about 2 or 3 theatres in all of florida. luckily one of them was only thirty minutes from me. best movie i've seen this year. haven't seen any since. have no plans to.
  38. VinceH
    Mar 21, 2009
    10
    Yes this film has more flaws and missteps than a bad episode of Dancing with the Stars...but still...come on people! I don't understand the people just trashing the hell outta this movie...do you guys WANT to continually see movies like "Beverly Hills Chiuahaha" & "Punisher: Warzone" being offered to us by movie studios? Or would you like to actually try and challenge yourself. The Yes this film has more flaws and missteps than a bad episode of Dancing with the Stars...but still...come on people! I don't understand the people just trashing the hell outta this movie...do you guys WANT to continually see movies like "Beverly Hills Chiuahaha" & "Punisher: Warzone" being offered to us by movie studios? Or would you like to actually try and challenge yourself. The filmmgoing public has gotten so lazy. Unless a film does 100% of the work for you, it's either pretentious or boring. This film is a masterpiece and true film buffs will absolutely soak in every second. Charlie Kaufman is consistently one of the most innovate, creative, and forward-thinking screenwriters alive and for making a project that is so dense and complex and uncompromising, he should be applauded. A masterpiece, just underneath ESOTSM. Expand
  39. gregoryl
    Apr 12, 2009
    10
    A curveball of a movie, its' awkward relevance crept into my own perception of reality, and the outcome of the film paralleled with our own indecipherable truth and meaning for existence. We're not supposed to understand the symbolism, we're only meant to interpret it, much like the signs we see in our daily lives. The film was a stark transposition of reality onto A curveball of a movie, its' awkward relevance crept into my own perception of reality, and the outcome of the film paralleled with our own indecipherable truth and meaning for existence. We're not supposed to understand the symbolism, we're only meant to interpret it, much like the signs we see in our daily lives. The film was a stark transposition of reality onto screenplay and warrants a second and third viewing. Expand
  40. joshf
    Apr 23, 2009
    10
    Fantastic. spectacular acting, very good directing, and a very deep, intriguing storyline. unfortunately, too many americans are spoiled by the simplicity of most Hollywood movies, and need an explanation. but the fact that this movie makes you think and has so many different ways to look at it is what makes it beautiful. i think you need to watch it a number of times to appreciate it, i Fantastic. spectacular acting, very good directing, and a very deep, intriguing storyline. unfortunately, too many americans are spoiled by the simplicity of most Hollywood movies, and need an explanation. but the fact that this movie makes you think and has so many different ways to look at it is what makes it beautiful. i think you need to watch it a number of times to appreciate it, i was just ok with it the first time, and each additional time i watch it, the more i appreciate it. Expand
  41. LynnK.
    Nov 22, 2008
    8
    I admire this film a lot. It is incredibly ambitious and complex, but Kaufman didn't always know where the film was going, and it shows. Parts of it are loose, but much of it is beautiful. Hoffman and Morton are amazing. I wanted Kaufman to pull it all together in the end, but he didn't.
  42. JeffC
    Mar 25, 2009
    9
    Although I think it could have been a bit shorter due to overdoing the whole recursive thing too much, this is a great movie. It will have you thinking and talking about it for weeks.
  43. EdgarM
    Apr 2, 2009
    5
    You have to really want a lot of (mostly turgid) dialog between a bunch of otherwise nicely drawn and inherently interesting characters to appreciate this film. Just the thing for reviewers who live for such things - and Charlie Kaufman We thought it confusing and pretty much a wast of time but then we were tired when we watched it. Rent it if you want an intellectual workout and/or You have to really want a lot of (mostly turgid) dialog between a bunch of otherwise nicely drawn and inherently interesting characters to appreciate this film. Just the thing for reviewers who live for such things - and Charlie Kaufman We thought it confusing and pretty much a wast of time but then we were tired when we watched it. Rent it if you want an intellectual workout and/or mental challenge. Entertainment, it's not. But it shouldn't have to be. Expand
  44. RyanM.
    Apr 8, 2009
    10
    This film brings to light, and amplifies the sadness, longing and frustration that binds itself with love and life that one might not have ever seen or noticed unless laid down on such a grand scale as this film. Not only does the story cause you to reflect, but binds you emotionally to the characters as well.
  45. PixieEleven
    Jun 20, 2009
    10
    A thoroughly devastating film, a masterpiece.
  46. DerekL.
    Nov 24, 2008
    1
    Pretentious and pointless -- this is the worst type of filmmaking. I love intelligent, complex films, and Charlie Kaufman has made some fine ones in the past. But Synecdoche is an unmitigated disaster. It's long, plodding, boring, depressing, and terribly short on ideas. I feel this is the type of film people walk out of saying "I'm not smart enough to understand it." Don't Pretentious and pointless -- this is the worst type of filmmaking. I love intelligent, complex films, and Charlie Kaufman has made some fine ones in the past. But Synecdoche is an unmitigated disaster. It's long, plodding, boring, depressing, and terribly short on ideas. I feel this is the type of film people walk out of saying "I'm not smart enough to understand it." Don't be fooled. It's just a bad movie. Expand
  47. TonyB.
    Nov 28, 2008
    10
    Well acted but sluggish and slow.
  48. WillN.
    Nov 28, 2008
    9
    I'm so depressed by something so brilliant. Another fine film in Hoffman's portfolio.
  49. BobN
    Nov 7, 2008
    8
    There were times, to be honest, where this film pissed me off something royal. There were times where I told myself, "Here is yet another example of someone making complicated scenarios to make a simple point." But, there were moments where I loved it. Anything philosophical spikes my interest. My favorite novel is Crime and Punishment and I love documentaries about artists and what makes There were times, to be honest, where this film pissed me off something royal. There were times where I told myself, "Here is yet another example of someone making complicated scenarios to make a simple point." But, there were moments where I loved it. Anything philosophical spikes my interest. My favorite novel is Crime and Punishment and I love documentaries about artists and what makes them tick-their worldview is what interests me. This film, though not perfect, and long at times, is worth seeing if you enjoy esoteric and/or philosophical reflections. Near the end there was a moment where everything in this chaotic and rambling film seemed to apex with a feeling of joy, a feeling of creative height, a top of the mountain obly to realize it is a long and dangerous fall back down. As one who deeply understands this creative reach for ultimate meaning, and the consequent fall into absurdity, I came to deeply appreciate this film. Go see it if you want to self-reflect and wax philosophically. All in all, Mr. Kaufman, well done. Well done. (Note: I did not enjoy any of Kaufman's previous films, but this one struck a deep chord for me. It is depressing, deeply depressing, but it has its mountains and valleys-like life.) Expand
  50. SibylP
    Oct 25, 2008
    8
    Fascinating exploration of creative anxiety, heartbreaking relationships, medical dysfunction, and bad hair. Funny, original, moving, thought-provoking, but a little long. Ten mintes out of the last 40 would have helped and the VFX were not convincing. In the end, maybe too dark to be truly great.
  51. SteveS.
    Oct 26, 2008
    10
    Phenomenal imagination combined with great acting, great visuals, and a subject (what makes a life worthwhile) that is really worth spending all the effort on. Best, most challenging movie of the year so far.
  52. AndyBlue
    Jan 2, 2009
    10
    This is a one-in-a-million film. It's so brilliant and groundbreaking -- so defiant of our expectations of movie storytelling -- that many of us will fail to understand or appreciate it. But it's a masterpiece work from a genius artist. I'm amazed and thankful that it was actually made and distributed. "Synecdoche" moved, inspired, and changed me.
  53. MarkR.
    Jan 27, 2009
    10
    I felt like I got more than my money's worth with this film. Although it is not a movie for the casual viewer. I can't wait to see it again (just wish there had been some, any, non-white people in Cotard's world. It seems that Kaufman's NY and Woody Allen's NY are inscrutably pale).
  54. SteveE
    Mar 1, 2009
    9
    Let's face it, this film is about suffering. At the time I saw the movie I was involved in chemotherapy - so I related to it immensely and it cheered me up!
  55. NicholasC.
    Apr 14, 2009
    10
    One of the best American movies of the modern era. I can only assume that the people who disliked this film either 1) didn't understand it, 2) felt condescended towards by it, 3) are unwilling to believe in the futility and meaninglessness of their own lives, or 4) aren't interested in or able to engage in deep analytical thought. There is so much to this film that it's One of the best American movies of the modern era. I can only assume that the people who disliked this film either 1) didn't understand it, 2) felt condescended towards by it, 3) are unwilling to believe in the futility and meaninglessness of their own lives, or 4) aren't interested in or able to engage in deep analytical thought. There is so much to this film that it's like a classic painting, you can view it again and again and see something else each time. Every single line has meaning, every point is made for a reason. I didn't think that Charlie Kaufman would be able to top all of his other films at once and I was wary about his directorial debut, but there is enough genius in this film for five directors (or 1000 Michael Bays) and an entire lifetime. To those who don't see it, I say: check back in 15 or 20 years, and you might actually see what you've been missing. Indeed, I think the entire point of the film is exactly how much time and effort we waste in a failed trajectory that eventually turns to regret and dulled sensation. Open your eyes, and watch this movie. Expand
  56. BrendanD
    Apr 4, 2009
    10
    When the history of Charlie Kauffman is written, this film is bound to be the one, like David Lynch's "Lost Highway" or Stanley Kubrick's "Eyes Wide Shut," that divides audiences more than any other one. The plot is non-linear, the actual story contrived, and the direction almost like a poor-man's Jonze a la "Adaptation." Yet each of these elements is another metafictional When the history of Charlie Kauffman is written, this film is bound to be the one, like David Lynch's "Lost Highway" or Stanley Kubrick's "Eyes Wide Shut," that divides audiences more than any other one. The plot is non-linear, the actual story contrived, and the direction almost like a poor-man's Jonze a la "Adaptation." Yet each of these elements is another metafictional facet of a truly sensational film. Once again, Kauffman proves he is smarter than most of the movie-going public. It's not a knock-off of French cinema (if anything, it has far more in common with German melodrama and Japanese comedy); nor is it anything like Kauffman's previous films. Instead, we're offered a script that is the literal representation of what is happening to the character. That's why, if anything, this has more in common with Jane Austen's "Emma" than any of the other things name-dropped here; it is structured to put its audience through the same thing its central character goes through. Now, you can like that or hate it, but failure to recognize that fact is the failure to understand the film itself. Expand
  57. PaulD
    Jun 11, 2009
    4
    Dreamlike exploration of a creative life whose attention to detail and stellar cast are undone by glacial pace and listless direction. An ambitious failure that shows that Kaufman the writer is best served by a non-Kaufman director.
  58. JamesS.
    Nov 11, 2008
    10
    This film was absurdly moving, and perhaps my favorite of this year. Charlie Kaufman has finally fully emerged as a titan of film.
  59. DavidI.
    Nov 17, 2008
    9
    Will truly screw with your head, if you let yourself get into it. I highly recommend you watch this film alone.
  60. CoryL.
    Nov 7, 2008
    10
    You will laugh, you will cry, and at the end you won't understand it all but will have enjoyed it nonetheless. For a film meant to contemplate the nature of life and the mind I cannot think of a more fitting viewing experience.
  61. SeanF.
    Dec 14, 2008
    4
    Not a great Charlie Kaufman movie. Some brilliant moments/bright spots, ultimately, though, a disappointing picture. Maybe worth seeing just for the inventiveness and creativity of it all, but I really started to lose the point of this whole thing, a little more than half way through it. Good acting (and actors), but overall probably an average to mediocre film.
  62. MathieuC.
    Dec 18, 2008
    10
    The only movie worth seeing this year. It's the most inventive screenplay I've ever seen, dans one of the most touching too.
  63. RobertH.
    Dec 6, 2008
    5
    I'm confused and depressed. Seems like a good movie would have given us some insight into how to escape or even to cope with the dispairs of life.
  64. [Anonymous]
    Oct 28, 2008
    7
    I wanted to love it. I really really wanted to love it. Kaufman and Phillip Seymour Hoffman are geniuses And the supporting cast are all fabulous. Yet the movie isn't. It had the potential to say so many wonderful things. And yet it gets lost in the telling of the story. Or maybe that's the point and I just missed it. During the film I found myself wondering what I could say about it.
  65. brunos
    Feb 28, 2009
    10
    The best movie I've seen in a very long time. Ambitious, innovative, genial. It's one of those movies that makes you realize how formulaic and derivative many of the movies you have seen recently really are. Charlie Kaufman is a genius! And Phillip Seymour Hoffman isn't bad either... hahaha!
  66. EllenB
    Jun 21, 2009
    9
    I wonder if the difference between liking this film and not liking it depend on whether Kaufman's preoccupations are your preoccupations and if they are not. Personally, I felt like someone I had never met must know me perfectly. Despite the darkness and sadness of much of the film, it was hugely liberating to know that others feel those same fears when it comes to trying to live I wonder if the difference between liking this film and not liking it depend on whether Kaufman's preoccupations are your preoccupations and if they are not. Personally, I felt like someone I had never met must know me perfectly. Despite the darkness and sadness of much of the film, it was hugely liberating to know that others feel those same fears when it comes to trying to live life and spend much of their time resisting a kind of oppressive narcissism that gets in the way of every human connection they make. Kaufman has presented a particular kind of neurosis, with all its petty humiliations and sweeping tragedy, to perfection. I couldn't give it a perfect score because it feels like such a deeply personal film, but it will resonate with me for a very, very long time. Expand
  67. JayK
    Nov 16, 2008
    9
    It's too bad more people won't appreciate this exceptional movie. Completely unique, very ambitious, and totally successful, in my opinion. Clever script, great acting, moving execution. Charlie Kaufman shows again that he's a genius.
  68. Nov 3, 2010
    7
    There is no doubt in my mind that Charlie Kaufman is indeed a genius. There is also little debate about the fact the this film is multidimensional, rich in context, meticulously crafted into a dreamlike nightmare. The cast is superb as well, however at times I felt lost and hard to comprehend the subliminal meaning of things like the significance of burning house, the Germanic accent ofThere is no doubt in my mind that Charlie Kaufman is indeed a genius. There is also little debate about the fact the this film is multidimensional, rich in context, meticulously crafted into a dreamlike nightmare. The cast is superb as well, however at times I felt lost and hard to comprehend the subliminal meaning of things like the significance of burning house, the Germanic accent of his daughter, etc... Expand
  69. Nov 12, 2010
    8
    I have never seen a move have such divided opinion for a film (Most of the major critics loved it, however.), perhaps not seen since the discussion of the pub scene in Inglorious Basterds, or to a lesser degree the Nicholas Cage remake of Bad Lieutenant.. WalterEgo compared it unfavorably to BerlinAlex, but overreacted IMO, (Grade 2). nboley08 captured well the strengths and weaknesses.I have never seen a move have such divided opinion for a film (Most of the major critics loved it, however.), perhaps not seen since the discussion of the pub scene in Inglorious Basterds, or to a lesser degree the Nicholas Cage remake of Bad Lieutenant.. WalterEgo compared it unfavorably to BerlinAlex, but overreacted IMO, (Grade 2). nboley08 captured well the strengths and weaknesses. (Grade 5)
    Others claimed if you don't like it, go see an Adam Sandler film.
    I have to side on the positive; for some reason I'm obssessed with it.
    It falls under the category of a flawed masterwork (like Miles Davis' **** Brew), and could have been tightened up some, but smoothing out the warts from such an utterance is usually a mistake.
    And yet, Apocalypse Now and Citizens Kane were also called flawed.
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  70. Oct 14, 2011
    10
    kaufman's best. in my opinion, it is movies like this one that separate the truly thoughtful people from those who watch more sophisticated movies only to appear "hip" or because they are genuinely convinced that alternative is the way to go - but not because of a reasonable conclusion but because they treat it as a trend like any other.
    i don't think this movie needs more words than
    kaufman's best. in my opinion, it is movies like this one that separate the truly thoughtful people from those who watch more sophisticated movies only to appear "hip" or because they are genuinely convinced that alternative is the way to go - but not because of a reasonable conclusion but because they treat it as a trend like any other.
    i don't think this movie needs more words than these. it is a truly artistic, perfect masterpiece. i think i kept noticing new things up until i viewed it for the fourth time. and the memorable words spoken that apply so often in everyday life but simply might not have come to your mind are many.
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  71. Oct 5, 2011
    10
    If I could, I would give this film a 15. It works, it just works so intensly. The only film that made me cry, ever. The best thing about it, you can watch it over and over again, and you will always discover something new - not just about the movie, but about your self. Unless of course you are a little bit hollow inside, then it most likely will not work.
  72. Mar 24, 2013
    10
    Charlie Kaufman makes his directorial debut in what can only be described as the most bizarrely brilliant but depressingly modernistic film to grace your eyes in many MANY years.
    Synecdoche, New York tells the story of depressed and down on his luck Caden (Philip Seymour Hoffman), a theatre director who sees no motive or starting point in his life, his wife, Adele (Catherine Keener) is an
    Charlie Kaufman makes his directorial debut in what can only be described as the most bizarrely brilliant but depressingly modernistic film to grace your eyes in many MANY years.
    Synecdoche, New York tells the story of depressed and down on his luck Caden (Philip Seymour Hoffman), a theatre director who sees no motive or starting point in his life, his wife, Adele (Catherine Keener) is an artist and receives the opportunity to go to Berlin to pursue her artistic ambition, this would also involve leaving Caden and taking their daughter Olive with her.
    Caden receives a surprise McArthur grant to pursue his interest in what he sees fit. He decides to put on a massive play which he wants to throw his honesty and life into, but at the same time he is also dealing with his ailing body and spontaneous bouts of illness.
    His project can only be described as epic, using a huge warehouse to recreate New York itself, taking in actors to portray everyday people, including himself, which in turn creates a film that is never truly sure as to what is the true world or the dream that Caden has created.
    The film itself is simply art, a non-linear story with fast forward in time points that will leave you confused, yet in awe as to the spectacle and nerve of director and writer Kaufman. It is true that you will never know exactly what is going on, with a very unorthodox story that will leave people hating this film, but those ones will ultimately miss the message of this film.
    Dreams may indeed already be our reality, that life is so short that no matter what situation you are in, go for gold and don't look back, as you watch this wonderful film you will be left dumfounded as to what you are witnessing, but also appreciative of the art at play here.
    As mentioned, the film jumps time considerably, at some points you might not even notice, actually scratch that, you simply won't notice, as Caden himself doesn't even notice.
    Hoffman puts in an unforgettable and commanding performance as Caden, someone who does grab his dream when the opportunity arose, yet was always struggling with his past life, a fitting message that will stand the test of time.
    Each time you watch this something different will catch your eye, something on the wall, a character or whatever, it puts you in the spot of analysing your own life and deciding what to do with it, but also to confront or make peace with your demons head on.
    Not only one of the best films of the decade, but one of the greatest and most relevant pieces or art to ever grace your eyes.
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  73. Nov 27, 2014
    10
    Synecdoche, New York is undeniably one of the best films I have ever seen and, arguably, one of the best ever made. When I finished this one, I was absolutely floored and was on the brink of tears with my jaw hanging on the floor; I was that moved and that shocked by what I had just watched. Incredibly weird and at times almost unsettling, Synecdoche, New York is a tough nut to crack.Synecdoche, New York is undeniably one of the best films I have ever seen and, arguably, one of the best ever made. When I finished this one, I was absolutely floored and was on the brink of tears with my jaw hanging on the floor; I was that moved and that shocked by what I had just watched. Incredibly weird and at times almost unsettling, Synecdoche, New York is a tough nut to crack. However, before moving into my interpretation, let me discuss what I love so much. The direction, for one, is brilliant. Charlie Kaufman truly made his vision for this film into his own and in just one film, he has become one of my favorite directors. The acting is beyond brilliant. Delicate in nature and so artistic, it is just a treat to watch. The set design and writing are both of the highest order just are both impactful in their own unique ways. Truly a beautiful film in every sense of the word.

    **SPOILERISH FROM NOW ON**
    Now, this one can mean many things to many different people. I do not doubt that there are many interpretations of this one with all of them being right in their own way. For me, this was a film about life in every form: love, happiness, hope, betrayal, sadness, loneliness, and death, basically every element that make up every single person's life. Not only are our individual struggles not unique, but they are widespread. Everyone will go through all of those things in their life and while it may feel incredibly important to us in the moment, in the grand scheme of things, it means very little if anything at all. However, this sense of importance is what makes life almost like a play. After thinking about what I thought the film meant, I saw a quote by Shakespeare that essentially said that we are all the lead in our play, which is also something mentioned in the film itself. As depicted in the film with the continuous casting of new actors in the protagonist's play and the growing scope of the set, we all come together and play a role in the play that is life. We all mean something different to every person we come across and play many different roles in our life and embody many different personas.
    **SPOILERS END**

    But, what do I know? I am probably wrong on some fronts, but hopefully I am correct on others. Overall, this is simply a brilliant film with many different ways of solving it. Just watch it, please.
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  74. Aug 28, 2013
    10
    This review contains spoilers, click expand to view. By far one of the greatest artistic achievements of all time. Kaufman pushed the limit on defining truth, what art's role is in portraying truth, and ultimately how this toil affects human existence. Expand
  75. Feb 2, 2014
    10
    This film polarises people.

    I consider it a truly great movie. It is magnificently intelligent, subtle, amusing, absurd, and poignant, all at the same time. It has something of the character of a dream, with great, rich imagery and symbolism, a sparse poetry of language, and a delightful sense of the absurd, and absurd extrapolation of ideas. I loved it from the very opening
    This film polarises people.

    I consider it a truly great movie. It is magnificently intelligent, subtle, amusing, absurd, and poignant, all at the same time.

    It has something of the character of a dream, with great, rich imagery and symbolism, a sparse poetry of language, and a delightful sense of the absurd, and absurd extrapolation of ideas.

    I loved it from the very opening scene, and have seen it a number of times.

    If you did not like it the first time you saw it, try to go back to it with an open mind. I doubt that you will regret it.
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  76. Jan 19, 2015
    2
    Synecdoche New York was booed when it was first screened at cannes. Having now seen it, I know why. First off let us say in defence of Synecdoche New York, that it is quite nicely lit and the art direction creates a visual atmosphere that is both elegant and soothing. Now all that's missing is a meaningful script, a decent director and a reason why. Synecdoche New York is the sort ofSynecdoche New York was booed when it was first screened at cannes. Having now seen it, I know why. First off let us say in defence of Synecdoche New York, that it is quite nicely lit and the art direction creates a visual atmosphere that is both elegant and soothing. Now all that's missing is a meaningful script, a decent director and a reason why. Synecdoche New York is the sort of self-important twaddle that makes audiences snore and critics grovel. The meta-physical mumbo-jumbo the film exudes makes no sense whatsoever and the film itself resists unlocking. Prepare to be told that it's a masterpiece. One over-zealous critic called it a "religious experience". No wonder church attendance is low on sunday.
    Phillip Seymour Hoffman came across as the only actor who actually gave a damn about the film. But his performance is so thoroughly engulfed in the long shadow of pretentiousness cast by hack writer/director Charlie Kaufman that it's hard to praise it. It's a real shame because Synecdoche New York has enough poetry for several great films but Kaufman somehow manages to muff it up. He's made a 2 hour bore-fest that possesses no thematic substance whatsoever. This is a failure of epic proportions. You've got to be a genius to make a movie this bad.
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  77. Feb 28, 2015
    10
    A film that studies life and it's meaning with surreal themes and imagery. A film that speaks poetry in the most depressing and honest way. A film that makes you think about your choices, your way of thinking, your transcendence, and the pretencions of your way of acting in society. It is a beautiful piece of art that speaks about what art is in the best way a film could do. It is for sureA film that studies life and it's meaning with surreal themes and imagery. A film that speaks poetry in the most depressing and honest way. A film that makes you think about your choices, your way of thinking, your transcendence, and the pretencions of your way of acting in society. It is a beautiful piece of art that speaks about what art is in the best way a film could do. It is for sure one of the best movies I've seen and one i will never forget. Expand
  78. Dec 7, 2014
    3
    Synecdoche New York was booed when it was first screened at cannes. Having now seen it, I know why. First off let us say in defence of Synecdoche New York, that it is quite nicely lit and the art direction creates a visual atmosphere that is both elegant and soothing. Now all that's missing is a meaningful script, a decent director and a reason why. Synecdoche New York is the sort ofSynecdoche New York was booed when it was first screened at cannes. Having now seen it, I know why. First off let us say in defence of Synecdoche New York, that it is quite nicely lit and the art direction creates a visual atmosphere that is both elegant and soothing. Now all that's missing is a meaningful script, a decent director and a reason why. Synecdoche New York is the sort of self-important twaddle that makes audiences snore and critics grovel. The meta-physical mumbo-jumbo the film exudes makes no sense whatsoever and the film itself resists unlocking. Prepare to be told that it's a masterpiece. One over-zealous critic called it a "religious experience". No wonder church attendance is low on sunday.
    Phillip Seymour Hoffman came across as the only actor who actually gave a damn about the film. But his performance is so thoroughly engulfed in the long shadow of pretentiousness cast by hack writer/director Charlie Kaufman that it's hard to praise it. It's a real shame because Synecdoche New York has enough poetry for several great films but Kaufman somehow manages to muff it up. He's made a 2 hour bore-fest that possesses no thematic substance whatsoever. This is a failure of epic proportions. You've got to be a genius to make a movie this bad.
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  79. Mar 13, 2015
    10
    This is a movie where life itself is getting shorter. Synecdoche, New York is about a struggling stage director feels that his life is unsuccessful as he struggles with success and women. He discovers an old warehouse and decides to direct a play that includes a life size replica. How long will it take for him to pull off this play. This movie not like another movie that i have seen,This is a movie where life itself is getting shorter. Synecdoche, New York is about a struggling stage director feels that his life is unsuccessful as he struggles with success and women. He discovers an old warehouse and decides to direct a play that includes a life size replica. How long will it take for him to pull off this play. This movie not like another movie that i have seen, because with new movies trying to be new and try to be bold and smart, well this movie does it well by it's brilliant directing. You know when people say to you that life is short or you will always be daddy's baby, well in this movie a stage director played by the great Philip Seymour Hoffman, well his life is going past him very quick and his daughter never ages in this film at all, because this movie is like peoples quotes coming to life and that to me is brilliant and new. The directing and the writing is simply fantastic. Philip Seymour Hoffman once again bringing a well acted performance and the whole cast did a great job too. Some people will not like this movie or some people will not get this movie at all, which I understand because it is hard to follow at some parts, but if you watch this movie a second time you might get a little more information that you missed the first time. Expand
Metascore
67

Generally favorable reviews - based on 34 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 21 out of 34
  2. Negative: 2 out of 34
  1. Synecdoche is the kind of movie that rewards repeated viewings. But sometimes, as Van Morrison sings, it's just best to "sail into the mystic."
  2. 75
    You have never seen a movie quite like this one.
  3. 50
    As the movie rambles along with its own brand of quasi-magical surrealism, the links to real experience grow scarcer and more frayed.