So when we get to the final act, the film hasn’t really earned the right to throw around the wisdom it portends. Caden openly marvels over his profound conclusions his life in pursuit of art has produced. Statements like, “there are no extras in life, we are all the lead in our own story” and “no one wants to hear about my misery because they have their own” are thought-provoking ideas to consider. But in the mish-mash of this film these ideas fall flat.

Top it off with a bizarre conclusion and you have a movie that film students will spend years dissecting. Synecdoche, New York doesn’t give us much of the thoughtful consideration we see in some of Kaufman’s earlier work. Instead we see a lot of great actors give a lot of forgettable performances; we see a lackluster film plod through emotional issues with seeming indifference.

For Christians, self examination is part of everyday life as we endeavor to follow the tenants of our faith. Caden’s journey of self-examination leaves us with very little encouragement or insight.


  • Violence:  Caden is hit in the head with an exploding pipe resulting in blood loss and a close-up of him getting stitches. He is also shown having a seizure and on the receiving end of several medical procedures (many are cringe-worthy). Suicide is discussed and shown in the film. Caden physically attacks a woman he believes is keeping his daughter from him. The aftermath of a murder scene is shown containing a good deal of blood.
  • Language/Profanity:  A great deal of vulgar and profane language. A moderate amount of frank sexual discussion. Discussion about all manner of bodily functions.
  • Sex/Nudity:  Hazel tries to seduce the married Caden. Some of the artwork (paintings) in the film portrays nudes. There are several sex scenes in the film, most of which don’t include explicit nudity. In one scene a women is shown undressing and topless before getting into bed with Caden. Caden sees a woman he believes is his daughter dance nude in a European peep show. Caden imagines his therapist trying to seduce him. Claire is shown once in a see-through negligee.
  • Drugs/Alcohol:  Casual smoking and drinking throughout the film. Hazel offers Caden marijuana at one point. He declines and returns home to find his wife and her friend high.