Synecdoche, New York (2008)

Original Large Theatrical Movie Poster Art Cinema Film 2008 Synecdoche New York

Following the incredibly sad loss of Philip Seymour Hoffman, I present this review of this amazing film so that you may go and watch it, and wonder again at the superior talents of this relatively young man who has left us far too soon.

Synecdoche, New York is the big screen directorial debut of wonder-screenwriter Charlie Kaufman. Kaufman is lauded for penning majestic scripts Being John Malkovich (1999), Adaptation. (2002), Confessions of a Dangerous Mind (2002), Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (2004), as well as the film we are presently discussing.

Synecdoche, New York is an ambitious, complex piece of literature which works as a film because of the exceptional qualities of the key individuals involved. It is a wonderful analysis of life and death which you will almost certainly have to watch twice or thrice to command a firm grip on the many human truths embedded within the script.

I cannot overemphasize what a fascinating film this is, or how brilliant Hoffman is as the lead character, Caden Cotard. With the devastating news of Hoffman’s passing, I am finding it hard to separate the loss of the actor with the neuroses of Caden Cotard. Currently, in my mind, actor and character are somehow inextricably intertwined.


You can find more information on this U.S. movie on Wikipedia and IMDb.

As always, we recommend you don’t ruin any surprises by reading spoilers or watching trailers.


Title: Synecdoche, New York (2008)

Language: English

Direction: Charlie Kaufman

Screenplay: Charlie Kaufman

Cinematography: Frederick Elmes

Editing: Robert Frazen

Score: Jon Brion

Stars: Philip Seymour Hoffman, Catherine Keener, Samantha Morton, Hope Davis, Tom Noonan, Emily Watson, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Dianne Wiest, Michelle Williams, Deirdre O’Connell, Robin Weigert, Sadie Goldstein, Josh Pais


Full Acting Cast and Roles



  1. It is incredibly sad. My favourite films of his: Mary and Max, The Master, Punch-Drunk Love, and The Savages. Many others, of course. An incredible actor and he’ll be seriously missed.

    1. Thank you for sharing your thoughts. I haven’t seen all of Hoffman’s films, so I’m going to enjoy going through the whole catalogue. I first saw him in Happiness (1998) and then The Talented Mr. Ripley (1999), and subsequently in 13 other films. So there are still many new experiences to enjoy with Mr. Hoffman. But what a tragedy that he won’t be continuing. He really was a very special talent.

  2. I always wondered if the film would have been more popular if it had a different name. I’m partly kidding. It’s an amazing, complex film and you can view it on several levels. Just enjoy it for the plot and characters or parse out how the pieces are actually synecdoche (rhymes with Schenectady). I’ve seen it twice and it’s time to see it a few more times. I think it’s one of PSH’s best films. What a tragedy to lose such a brilliant artist at such a young age.

    1. Hi Nancy. It is true about the title; a lot of people are put off by being confronted by a word they don’t understand. But, then again, maybe this is a film for people who like to pick up dictionaries.

  3. I haven’t seen this but I’ve really enjoyed some of Kaufman’s films and I am utterly heartbroken about Hoffman. I definitely need to check it out.

  4. Thank you very much for this review. I saw the film yesterday and consider it now a worthy item in your Wonderful Cinema list. Do keep inspiring us!

  5. Overwhelmingly sad death. To be somewhat unique, though, I think Doubt is probably my favorite film of his. Nice review, Hoffman will be missed for sure.

    1. Hi Matthew. Yes, someone else was telling me recently that Doubt (2008) is fabulous. I will definitely see it, as I intend to see all of Hoffman’s films. Thanks for the tip.

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