Monday, 11 July 2016


This sterling work of stop-motion animation (a la Fantastic Mr. Fox) comes from the creative genius of Charlie Kaufman, who wrote the script and co-directs with Duke Johnson.

From the mind that brought surreal offerings as Being John Malkovich and Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind ... Anomalisa is a film about a male trying to find an understanding of his place in the world. Kaufman is a romantic writer, who wants the characters he starts with to end the film happy; this does not necessarily mean staying with the same partner they started the film with.

Michael (voiced by David Thewlis) is attending a conference in Cincinnati, Ohio where he is giving a speech on customer service. From the flight to the taxi ride to the hotel ride to the ex he calls, every person be it male or female is voiced by the same person, in this case Tom Noonan, a voice of soft banality and lacking emotion. This tells us Michael is suffering with disillusionment in his life, he wants to be alive and after he has a shower, he hears a new different voice.

The voice he hears is Lisa (Jennifer Jason Leigh), a young telesales operator attending the conference who has read Paul's book and is a fan. The sweetness of her voice is music to Michael's ears and he wants to hear everything about Lisa, which she finds surprising as she considers herself fat and ugly in comparison to her flirtatious friend Emily, who men Lisa says prefer generally.

This anamoly of their courting happening out of the blue coupled with her name gives the film its name. Perhaps Kaufman is critiquing a fear in society about how settling for your life can lead to mundanity and everything sounding the same, Lisa is a new sensation bringing a sense of solace to his ears and eyes.

Michael and Lisa share a night cap in his room and this leads to a sexual coupling between the two, which is done with a bit more sincerity than the marionette puppets in Team America. However, Michael wakes up from a mad dream where everyone has the same voice and they all love him. He wants to convince Lisa to runaway with him and he will leave his wife back in Los Angeles. 

Following a breakdown at his convention speech, Michael travels home to his mundane household. Again everyone has the same face and voice, even his young child Henry has the voice and his demands for a present shows how ungrateful a child he is and in effect symptomatic of the life Michael endures.

The animation couples well with Kaufman's witty script with good observational dialogue such as the taxi driver describing the Cincinnati Zoo, 'You should visit it. It's zoo sized'. The voice cast do excellent work across the board, and this is another worthy film into Kauffman's pantheon full of intellect undoubtedly and now with this film, one of unique charm.

This is a beautiful little anomaly of a film, insightful of the human condition stating how we deal with loneliness and project our insecurities towards the world. Both haunting and beguiling, Anomalisa is a cinematic treat that will stay with you long after you leave its dream like quality

Anomalisa is released from Curzon World cinema in DVD and Blu-ray from Monday 11th July. The discs feature a Q&A with Kaufman and Johnson, a total of 13 featurettes, photo gallery and theatrical trailer

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