by Eric Hynes (October 22, 2008)

Staring into the abyss through a kaleidoscope, Charlie Kaufman's 
"Synecdoche, New York" sees ecstatic, innumerable facets in the 
depths. Another of Kaufman's Alice in Wonderland narratives, his 
first directorial effort is more gnarled and coiled than his 
scripts for Spike Jonze ("Being John Malkovich," "Adaptation") 
and Michel Gondry ("Human Nature," "Eternal Sunshine of the 
Spotless Mind"), yet also more emotionally direct. Impossible to 
fully grasp on first pass, the film nevertheless has a rigorous 
-- and perversely funny -- through-line of extreme anxiety and 
sorrow. "I won't accept anything but the brutal truth," says his 
protagonist, theater director Caden Cotard (Philip Seymour 
Hoffman). "Brutal, brutal," he repeats, hammering home the cliched, 
self-conscious overstatement, but he means it every time.
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