Philip Seymour Hoffman, Samantha Morton, Michelle Williams
Dr. Eisenberg: The eyes are part of the brain after all.
Caden: Now that’s not true, is it?
Dr. Eisenberg: Why would I say it if it weren’t true?
Caden: Just doesn’t seem right…
Dr. Eisenberg: Like, morally incorrect, or right as in accurate?
Caden: I dunno…accurate…I guess.
Dr. Eisenberg: Interesting…
Wow, where to begin…? Caden Cotard (Hoffman) is an unhappy director/playwright with a myriad of health problems and a rapidly decaying marriage. His wife goes on a month-long trip to Europe with their daughter, but never returns. As he copes with this, his health, and the problems he experiences with the new relationships in his life, he gradually creates a new play bigger than anything ever made before. This play is to take place in a life-sized neighborhood built in a gigantic warehouse. It involves hundreds of actors playing all the people in Caden’s life, but since his life is constantly changing and going on longer, the play is constantly changing and can never seem to be finished.
I know that this movie will not appeal to a lot of people. In fact, I bet some people will absolutely hate it. I didn’t love it, or even particularly like it a great amount, but I’m glad I watched it. It’s a wholly original venture into obsessiveness, loneliness, and self observation. I think…
I laughed quite a bit in the first 10-15 minutes of the movie, but then it started getting darker and more uncomfortable, before eventually transitioning into strange and bizarre territory. For instance, one character, Hazel (Morton) purchases a house that is on fire while she views it, and it remains on fire for the extent of the film, even 30+ years later. I’m sure there’s symbolism of some kind there, but I’m not brave enough to venture any guesses at what it is.
There are moments of poignant observation hidden throughout the 2+ hour running time though, especially in the speech that Dianne Wiest’s character gives near the end. There’s some cold, hard truth there about life and death that a lot of people don’t like to think about.
I don’t recall the last time I saw a movie with this many characters in it. And many of the characters play a person who is playing another character in the huge play that Caden is creating. Or sometimes there’s even a person who is playing a person who is playing a person who is playing a character in the play. Does that make sense? It reminded me of the video for Bjork’s song Bachelorette. All that stuff bogs the movie down a bit, but it’s still fascinating to think of how hard it was to keep all of those characters and identities straight. It’s not surprising, though, considering this movie is written and directed by Charlie Kaufman. He does not like to do things in any sort of conventional way.
I would have to say that I like the IDEA of this movie more than the movie itself, but there were still some genuinely funny and touching moments throughout. You’ll just need some patience to get through all the other confusing moments in order to enjoy the better moments.
10 – 2.1 for the confusing nature of the movie – 1.7 for it being so depressing and harsh throughout + .1 for even trying to make the movie at all + .2 for that final speech = 6.5