Review: Anomalisa (2015)


Seven years after Synecdoche, New York, Charlie Kaufman returns with a stop-motion animation that’s as distinctive as it is inventive. Michael (David Thewlis), a motivational speaker and author in Cincinatti for a conference, is distant to everyone, yearning for connection amidst a world of uniformity. He sees – and hears – everyone around him as the same person, all of them voiced by Tom Noonan. That is, however, until he meets distinctively voiced Lisa (Jennifer Jason Leigh). As unusual and uncomfortable as Anomalisa can be at times, it’s a simple film about two recognisable topics: love and loneliness. Michael’s crisis, though based on an actual disorder, is relatable, to the point where humour erupts from its uncomfortableness. This extends to his interactions with Lisa, which are a collection of shy fumbles – a prolonged sex scene included -that are both sweet and clumsy. The use of stop-motion is cleverly done; the characters’ movements and expressions are incredibly naturalistic, right down to the finer details. It verges into bizarre territory during the final act, but ends on an interesting note that pulls it back up. Anomalisa is, like Lisa, an anomaly – an intrinsically human drama done in an interesting, unusual way.

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