Sunday, March 22, 2009

SYNECDOCHE, NEW YORK (Charlie Kauffman, 2008, USA) Caden attempts to understand his life by reenacting fragments, removing himself from the human equation while striving for omniscient interpretation, to unburden him of regrets and doubts while his life slips quickly away. Writer/Director Charlie Kauffman has crafted and exquisite portrait, in miniature, concerning human denial of mortality and our (un)conscious desires to ward of death forever, examining this evolutionary inability to accept the conundrum between brief existence and the abyss of infinity. Like the fool PARSIFAL, it’s compassion that helps Caden regain his moral cadence; to accept the impact of his selfish decisions and realize that his behavior has affected many lives…as he vainly attempts epiphany. Here, in the surreal recess of his mind, time does indeed turn into space. Kauffman wonderfully fails to narrate a baseline for reality: instead, we are never given queues as to what is experienced through Caden’s actual perceptions, dream-senses or what is hallucination. Though the film begins innocuously enough, strange patterns soon emerge and we are beguiled into believing we are one step removed from our protagonist, that we are only experiencing him through his own cracked lens of future deathdream. Caden is lost into himself, a vast conspiratorial territory where he is always the victim, unable to take responsibility but, like any creative intellect, he begins to work out his dilemma through art. He builds a larger and larger interior world where others act out his tragedies, and soon the line between identity and actor blur and become ethereal. As Caden directs the play in god-like fashion, his total control is a symptom of his predicament; unable to discover himself through other people acting out his mistakes, he sinks deeper and deeper into despair. It’s not until he becomes another person, a minor actor in the story of his life that true understanding begins. A willful empathetic feminine voice whispers salvation to Caden and he finally breaks this human bondage and all the tiny pieces are put together…and he dies a whole man. (A)

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