Director: Charlie Kaufman
Cast: Philip Seymour Hoffman, Samantha Morton, Michelle Williams, Catherine Keener
Have I Seen it Before: I’m not entirely sure I’ve stopped watching it at this point. The film is so amorphous that I seriously wondered if Kaufman was still shooting the film, years after Hoffman died, and with a ten year head start, is still sending reels to upload to Netflix.
Did I Like It: After saying something like that, I have to say no, right?
There are a lot of interesting visuals in this film, and they illicit a lot of feelings ranging from melancholy to deep melancholy. Some may say that Kaufman—a screenwriter making his first, and to date only directing attempt—is a gifted storyteller in need of a visual stylist like Spike Jonze to complete the package. This isn’t the problem here. He needed a tighter screenplay, which, honestly, he has provided other directors with far less effort.
That crack about melancholy above is maybe unfair, but only just so. There is much to identify in here. At it’s core, it deals with the blurring of lines between fiction and reality (I think) and that is a topic I have spent at least a little bit of time working out myself. The yearning for some kind of human contact beyond simply the romantic (again, I think) cuts deep with anyone on the north side of thirty and has spent a goodly chunk of their life in the same committed relationship.
Even the image of the schlubby Hoffman wandering through his life trying to write something real, while trying to find the right person to play himself (again, I can only guess) feels like I’m personally being called out, but that can’t be universal, right? It even took me most of the first forty-five minutes of the film to get over the fact that Hoffman and I essentially have the same haircut.
I just wish all of that could have fit into something I might understand as a story. I know Kaufman can create brilliantly structured stories, and that makes whatever I just saw all the more disappointing.