November 10, 2008 12:00 PM

Philip Seymour Hoffman, Samantha Morton, Catherine Keener, Michelle Williams, Emily Watson | R

DRAMA

When screenwriter Charlie Kaufman (Being John Malkovich and Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind) passes on, he should will his brain to science, because it certainly works in whacked-out and wonderful ways. Making his directing debut with this massively ambitious comic drama, Kaufman follows a glum theater director (Hoffman) who creates an epic, lifelong autobiographical production. With its time shifts and parallel universes, Synecdoche is impossible to understand fully, especially on first viewing. But the performances are delicious, and much of it is brilliant, hilarious and thought-provoking—brain food for the rest of us.

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