Film Review: Anomalisa

“Look For What Is Special About Each Individual, Focus On That…”

When the name Charlie Kaufman is brought up in conversation amongst the many cinematic ramblings, films like Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind and Being John Malkovich are the first that always spring to mind with the former being a particularly strange and wonderful feat of cinema featuring arguably Jim Carey in his best role to date. As for Duke Johnson, I’m afraid to say that this is a name that I was not aware of in the slightest before watching Anomalisa, a animated feature that brings together the wacky, surreal sensibility of Kaufman and morphs majestically with the stop-motion talents of Johnson (Thanks Wikipedia) creating a piece of art unlike anything else that will be released this year. Not only is the story wonderful, the ideas out-of-this-world and the stop-motion itself rather flawless, Anomalisa is a movie that speaks about the honest pains of the world’s oldest emotion; love. Just with puppets. Featuring David Thewlis as the voice of Michael Stone, the comically least motivated motivational speaker you have seen in film, Anomalisa follows Michael’s venture to Cincinnati and his stay at the local hotel wherein he meets the unique Lisa (Jennifer Jason Leigh) a woman whom he believes is the chance for a new beginning in life.

Carrying on the wonderful imaginings that originate from the mind of Kaufman, Anomalisa focuses solely on the POV of Michael, a man who seemingly realises his life is going nowhere, tent-poled by a marriage which bears similarities to Kevin Spacey’s Lester Burnham in American Beauty with both partnerships being there for show rather than for actuality on the basis of love, with even Michael’s son being more interested on the ownership of toys rather than his fathers’ affection, culminating in a rather hilarious scene in which Michael brings back his son a rather questionable Cincinnati present to play with. Boosting the notion of Michael’s loneliness in life is the way in which everyone around him sounds exactly the same, one that is rather monotone and ever-so slightly eerie masterminded by the voice of Tom Noonan. The constant familiar voice is intended to portray Michael’s singularity and depressive nature, a nature that is brought comfort by the discovery of Lisa whose voice, to the wonder of Michael, is inherently different, a soothing, comforting one in which Michael finds solace and can’t hear enough of, evidenced by a wonderful scene in which Lisa sings Cyndi Lauper’s “Girls Just Want To Have Fun”.

Amongst the wondrous joy of Anomalisa is the mandatory subverted strangeness, with Michael’s dream sequences being rather Lynchian to say the least, with one in particular exposing the puppetry of Michael’s orchestration, a nod to the film-maker’s decision to allow the design of the puppets to be seen clear-as-day on-screen, perhaps suggesting the life of Michael can be boiled down to that of the proverbial puppet on a string, one in which life and loneliness comes hand in hand except for that brief moment in which you find true happiness, happiness which goes all two quick for our titular Anomalisa. Much like Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, Kaufman has orchestrated a superbly imaginative piece of cinema, one in which should not forget the work of Duke Johnson in any sense, and one in which will stand up against anything else released this year. Superb.

Overall Score: 9/10

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Posted on 13/03/2016, in Uncategorized and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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