This review may contain spoilers. I can handle the truth.
Robert R’s review published on Letterboxd:
This review may contain spoilers.
Sorry I seemed down in the earlier review. I was in a very depressed mood. I’m feeling better now.
There have been much longer and better reviews of this movie, and I couldn’t even try to make something of that caliber. So I won’t. Here are just my ramblings, of what I think the themes are.
Contradiction, the prevalence of death, uncertainty is overwhelming. It’s interesting how each scene is several months apart. Caden only lingers on suffering, nothing else. He doesn’t care for anyone. The lighting and dialogue are too realistic. Disconnect. Judgement. It’s darkly comedic sometimes in how depressing it is. Regret. The oversexualization of everything. Not noticing what’s important. Over complication. Envy. Self hatred. He pretends like he should stay faithful but he only says that because he doesn’t find her attractive. Hypocrisy. Apathy. Inconvenience. Abandonment. Guilt. Denial. Longing. Imperfection. Fear. Legacy. Expectations. Reality. Decay. Artificiality. Vanity. Life imitating art and vice versa. Seeing people for who they are. Redundancy. Endings and beginnings. Corruption. Bureaucracy. Miscommunication. Misunderstanding. Voyeurism. Identity. The outside world seems to be descending into anarchy. Obsession. Perception. Prejudice. Manipulation. Life. Caden is nagging conscience. Confusion. Memory. Caden feels that gender equals identity. Caden might have some repressed homosexuality. Caden actually recovers from a lot of his ailments yet he isn’t grateful as it only prolongs death. I think in some ways Caden just wants it to be over. Population seems to be decreasing. Maybe Caden mends a little once he stops trying to play God. I think the true statement is that everyone is everyone. We are disappointed because we see ourselves in everyone.
Because Caden is somewhat omniscient, I at first thought he represented guilty conscience, but now I think he just represents everyone. We all have a part of him.
While this film objectively is a masterpiece, I can’t say I enjoyed it immensely. It’s kind of hard to watch all the depressing things that go on. But even so, there is somewhat of a comfort to watching it. It sort of says that you’re not alone. We’re all in this together, and life isn’t just depressing. It can be for some, but not others. But why can’t we communicate? The ending is fantastic in my opinion. There isn’t a real story formula, but there’s so much finality to it. There’s a catharsis with the ending and Sammy’s suicide. It’s saying “This is the end. It’s over, and it’s beautiful.” This is all accentuated by Jon Brion’s emotional score and moving performances from Philip Seymour Hoffman and basically everyone else.
Another theme is obsession, as I said Caden only cares about three things. Death, his work, and sex. He’s obsessed by all and they get in the way of what really matters. Each scene seems to take place weeks apart. He doesn’t care about the other things, only the events that made him think about death, work, and sex. Perhaps he did find some peace with his death, after liberating himself from the rest.
I think the best scene in the film is the funeral monologue. It’s more honest than anything Caden ever does.
But the thing is, because Charlie Kaufman writes similar characters in all his movies, do they represent him? If they do, I feel kind of bad for the guy.