Synecdoche, New York

Watched the film debut of Charlie Kaufman today on the movie festival in Regent theatre. Brilliant movie. Trying to capture and express inexpressible. This is what all art expressions should be about I guess. Difficult to describe what the movie is about. It works on many levels, and will mean slightly different things to different people, yet, there theme, the note played by the movie in everyone’s heart, will be the same. 

“I will be dying and so will you, and so will everyone here. That’s what I want to explore. We’re all hurtling towards death, yet here we are for the moment, alive. Each of us knowing we’re going to die, each of us secretly believing we won’t.” 

It is about life and death. About loneliness. About being young and creative and full of oneself, and then becoming aware of one’s own insignificance, truly becoming insignificant, and disappearing. The movie is extremely sad and yet, at the same time, affirmative. I found it enlightening. I found it really exhilarating. 

“Everything is more complicated than you think. You only see a tenth of what is true. There are a million little strings attached to every choice you make; you can destroy your life every time you choose. But maybe you won’t know for twenty years. And you’ll never ever trace it to its source. And you only get one chance to play it out. Just try and figure out your own divorce. And they say there is no fate, but there is: it’s what you create. Even though the world goes on for eons and eons, you are here for a fraction of a fraction of a second. Most of your time is spent being dead or not yet born. But while alive, you wait in vain, wasting years, for a phone call or a letter or a look from someone or something to make it all right. And it never comes or it seems to but doesn’t really. And so you spend your time in vague regret or vaguer hope for something good to come along. Something to make you feel connected, to make you feel whole, to make you feel loved. And the truth is I’m so angry and the truth is I’m so fucking sad, and the truth is I’ve been so fucking hurt for so fucking long and for just as long have been pretending I’m OK, just to get along, just for, I don’t know why, maybe because no one wants to hear about my misery, because they have their own, and their own is too overwhelming to allow them to listen to or care about mine. Well, fuck everybody. Amen.”

One of the themes is sex and it made it quite interesting to see the direct use of sex as a natural antidepressant, together with emptiness which it brings when misused and fullness otherwise.

HAZEL: don’t like Tammy and she’s nothing like me.  How can you like her?  […]

CADEN: She looks like you.  And — 

HAZEL: No she does not.

CADEN: — and she offered to have sex with me.  Abernathy? 

HAZEL: […]  Was it good? 

CADEN: I don’t know.  Yeah.  It was nice. 

HAZEL: Ugh.

CADEN: I’m just trying to be honest.  It was nice.  Not earth-shattering. 

HAZEL: Did you cry? 

CADEN: No! 

HAZEL: You’re making progress. 

CADEN: Okay, I cried a little before. (long pause) Hazel,  you’ve been part of me forever.  Don’t you know that?  I breathe your name in every exhalation.

[…]

Another theme explored in the movie is the notion of oneness. This goes deep into some of the spiritual notions that appear most notably in buddhism. Again, a very bold, simple formulation of the basic idea of repeatability and non-uniqueness of us. Human condition.  

“What was once before you – an exciting, mysterious future – is now behind you. Lived; understood; disappointing. You realize you are not special. You have struggled into existence, and are now slipping silently out of it. This is everyone’s experience. Every single one. The specifics hardly matter. Everyone’s everyone. So you are Adele, Hazel, Claire, Olive. You are Ellen. All her meager sadnesses are yours; all her loneliness; the gray, straw-like hair; her red raw hands. It’s yours. It is time for you to understand this.”

 

It’s spring and a ten year old girl watches her mother as she lays out a picnic on a blanket on the ground. 

MOTHER: Ellen, why do you look so serious? 

ELLEN: I’m going to remember this moment for the rest of my life, mama.  And in exactly twenty years, come here with my daughter and have exactly the same picnic. 

MOTHER: Baby, that’s the loveliest thing I’ve ever heard.

 

—–

 

Life is precious, every minute

More precious, with you in it,

So lets have some fun…

Little person – the song

 

—–

“The only thing that I can say is, that if you’ve got a thing that you are exploring, then explore it truthfully. I mean, if you wanna do that, if you are interested doing what you wanna do in the world, then do it,  you know. Explore it truthfully. Continue to try to find your voice. Which is, I think, ongoing, life-long process, I’m still trying to do that. I mean, I do not think that I’ve arrived anywhere. Just be diligent, and somewhat courageous in your attempts to be, to do your staff in the world. ”

from a short interview with Charlie Kaufman.

and another interview with a trailer.