First reactions to Synecdoche, New York
Synecdoche, New York might be the most facile movie I’ve ever seen. It would be the thing left over if you took everything that was good out of Rushmore and replaced it with dishonesty. It is a sophomore college student who’s never been hurt, always thinks it’s the most clever person in the room, and has never had to notice how meaningless both of those things are. It thinks post-modernism is cutting edge and that representing representation is a meaningful thing to do. It is a self-indulgent and solipsistic masturbation to a poster of solipsism and self-indulgence, and it thinks this is an accomplishment. It says “do you see what I’ve done here?” as if ironically mocking its own pretensions. But it is pretentious. It is dull. It thinks wretchedness is art, but it’s not even art by that standard. It still thinks it’s cool to say “fuck” nonchalantly. It could learn a lot from the worst Woody Allen movie ever, but it won’t. It doesn’t understand that Kafka and Dostoevsky were real people who wrote about real people; it thinks they are brand names. Instead of a plot, it has deus ex machina, and instead of deus ex machina, it has a McArthur genius grant. Instead of characters, it has clichés. It’s an argument for why white people should not be allowed to use magic realism. It uses a monstrous caricature of homosexuality and an unselfconscious misogyny as tropes for life’s unfairness. It thinks selfishness is noble and its consequences, tragedy. Its jokes aren’t funny, so it tries to pretend that this is what it was going for. It thinks there’s something deep about the idea that people are going to die, and something genius about dwelling on it. Years from now, it won’t even look back and realize what a horse’s ass it was being. It is a bad movie.