“Anomalisa” is a gift from the film gods
Written by: Charlie Kaufman
Charlie Kaufman is back! God that feels good to say. It has been a long time since Synecdoche, New York, but he’s back and with the help of co-director Duke Johnson (the man behind my favorite episode of Community) has created something that is surreal, touching, beautiful, and most of all sadly real. A stop-motion picture of isolation, stemming from an existential crisis that will seem all too familiar to many who watch it.
Michael Stone (Thewlis) is a motivational speaker, who travels to Cincinnati for a seminar. Right away we see how disconnected he is from the rest of humanity. From his perspective, everyone (with the exception of himself) looks and sounds exactly the same. The casting for “The rest of the world” is spot on, as Tom Noonan uses his most emotionally numb voice to convey just how dull everyone seems to Michael. From the taxi driver, to the bell boy at the hotel, to even his wife and son. In his world, they are all lumped in to one big race of creatures that he feels no connection to. That is until he meets Lisa (Leigh)
Lisa is a huge admirer of Michael’s and is staying with her friend Emma, in the hotel to attend his speech. Michael, wanting to get to know Lisa, coaxes the two women into having drinks with him, and at the end of the night asks Lisa to come to his room. The affair that plays out is so tender and charming that, for a while, you forget you are watching animated characters. While falling in love with Lisa, Michael feels real, raw emotion for the first time in ages. Maybe… just maybe Michael hasn’t lost his chance at real happiness yet.
Everything about “Anomalisa” is near perfect. Kaufman’s script delicately walks the line between sad and hopeful. The animation is a thing of beauty, and is probably the only thing about the film that juxtaposes the reality of what Michael is going through. All in all this is just a masterpiece. That is the easiest way to put it. See it, and I guarantee that if you have a heart “Anomalisa” will touch it.