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‘JCVD’: ‘Synecdoche’ for Dummies

Interested in Charlie Kaufman's Synecdoche, New York but worried you might not be smart enough? You're in luck! The new meta-drama JCVD explores the same mind-blowing themes as Kaufman's brainteaser, but there's a lot less heavy lifting—after all, it stars the Muscles from Brussels, Jean-Claude Van Damme.

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  Synecdoche, New York JCVD
The Title A hard-to-pronounce literary pun. Four easy-to-pronounce letters.
The Hero A zhlubby, depressed theater director named Caden Cotard (Philip Seymour Hoffman). A ripped, depressed martial-arts star named Jean-Claude Van Damme (same).
The Natural Habitat Avant-garde theater. Belgium.
The Identity Theme Who are you, really? Are you yourself, or the roles you play in life? Who is Jean-Claude Van Damme, really? Is he himself, or the roles he plays in life?
The Grand Gesture Cotard rues his provincial artistic life, dreaming up the biggest theater project ever in an effort to make something that matters. Van Damme rues a life of crappy action thrillers but doesn’t really do anything about it.
The Coup de Théâtre An actress (Dianne Weist) takes over the director’s role and begins guiding him, and the film, via an earpiece. Van Damme steps out of a tense scene to address the camera with a weeping monologue about his failures in life.
Harsh Words of Truth for Our Hero “Everyone’s disappointing, once you get to know them.” “I thought he would be taller.”


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