Charlie Kaufman has to be one of the most original voices in Hollywood. He does not have a huge filmography but the films he has written all stand out as very unique films among Hollywood’s output. After some work on TV Kaufman wrote his first feature film, Being John Malkovich. He followed that critically acclaimed film with Adaptation starring Nicolas Cage, Confessions of a Dangerous Mind with Sam Rockwell, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind with Jim Carrey and Kate Winslet and Synecdoche, New York, all of which were lauded by critics and went on to become beloved cult classics. His newest film, Anomalisa, went on to become nominated for an Oscar for Best Animated Feature and is out this month on Blu-ray and DVD.
Michael Stone (David Thewlis) is an author who specializes in books on customer service. In Cincinnati promoting his book he confronts his own mundane life where he envisions everybody with the same face and voice, even his own family. But when one woman, Lisa (Jennifer Jason Leigh), becomes an instant obsession to Michael, he embarks on a relationship he hopes will open up his world.
Anomalisa is unlike any drama I have ever seen. Thematically it could be compared to a film like Lost in Translation but with the unique spin of Charlie Kaufman’s writing and the unique stop motion animation the story is presented in makes it truly different. Another unique aspect of the film is how they convey Michael’s sense of everything in his life being the same. While Thewlis and Leigh provide the voice work for their characters, veteran character actor Tom Noonan provides the voices for every single other character in the film, men, women, children, the whole thing. The faces of all of the characters are the same as well and the result gives a stunning effect. Anomalisa is very intimate, very introspective and very compelling. Although we shouldn’t really expect any less from Kaufman who has always been an original voice in a climate of sequels and reboots. Lastly I should mention the style of animation is striking as well and like nothing I have seen before. And there are even instances of incorporating the construction of the puppets themselves into the story. Just brilliant. Anomalisa is highly recommended.