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Synecdoche, New York marked the directorial debut of iconoclastic, cerebral screenwriter Charlie Kaufman. Philip Seymour Hoffman stars as Caden Cotard, an eccentric playwright who lives with artist Adele Lack (Catherine Keener) and their daughter Olive in Schenectady, upstate New York. Prone to neuroses, misgivings and enormous self-doubt, Caden also begins suffering from accelerated physical deterioration - from blood in his stools to disfigured skin. Upon receiving a prestigious MacArthur grant, Caden decides to use the money to concoct one gigantic play as an analogue of his own life; he builds massive sets amid a New York City warehouse, casts others as his friends, family and acquaintances, and casts others to play the ones he's casting. After Adele whisks Olive off to Europe but demonstrates no sign of returning soon, Caden drifts into a series of relationships with lovers - first with box office employee Hazel (Samantha Morton), who purchases and moves into a house that is perpetually on fire; then with Tammy (Emily Watson), an actress assigned to play Hazel in the theatrical project; and subsequently with others. Unfortunately, the play itself grows so big and unwieldy - and rehearsals go on for so long, taking literally decades - that it becomes unclear if the production itself will ever launch.
~ Nathan Southern, Rovi
- Philip Seymour Hoffman, Samantha Morton, (more)