Welcome to the yowLAB Film Festival discussion for our fifth film, Synecdoche, NY, written and directed by Charlie Kaufman. Our reviewer this month is yowLAB co-director Sarah Gelbard. Her review/synopsis is included below.
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We hope you enjoy the film and the discussion. Without further ado. . .
Synecdoche, NY not to be confused with Schenectady, NY – or perhaps it is meant to be.
A synecdoche (//, si-NEK-də-kee; from Greek synekdoche (συνεκδοχή), meaning “simultaneous understanding”) is a figure of speech in which a term for a part of something refers to the whole of something, or vice versa.
I briefly discussed this film with a few different people this past week. Everyone had roughly the same first comment: “It’s a really great movie but it does drag on a bit.” I hadn’t gotten around to rewatching it yet to write the review but I remembered that was my feeling when I first watched it shortly after it came out in 2008. I was completely blown away and enthralled and confused and distracted, and like being on a road trip, the thought “are we there yet” kept popping up in my head. Finally, I broke. I paused the movie, thinking it must be almost over, only to find out there was still another 20-30 minutes left.
And even with everyone’s warnings and my own memories of the experience, last night as I watched the movie, I hit my breaking point and had to check to see how much longer was left. Once again it was at about 20-30 minutes from the end. I don’t know if it was a self-conscious cue or not but it came just after the line:
I’m aching for it to be over.
The end is built into the beginning.
It’s just one of many examples where it feels like the movie is interrupted to talk to you, the viewer. You’re sucked in to the crazy and disoriented layers of the play within the play. As annoying as it is to feel the movie drag on, it somehow feels like that is what brings you into it the more it makes you want to get away. You empathize with the actor who asks:
When are we going to get an audience in here? It’s been 17 years.