‘JCVD’: ‘Synecdoche’ for Dummies

Photo: Abbot Gensler/Courtesy of Sony Pictures Classics, Hoffman; Courtesy of Peace Arch Entertainment, JCVD

  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.”

‘JCVD’: ‘Synecdoche’ for Dummies