Monday, 14 March 2016

Film: 'Anomalisa'

A curious, puzzling, yet intriguing film - made in what they call 'stop-capture-motion animation', depicting characters near enough to reality so as not to be a continual distraction, yet sufficiently off-kilter to be mildly unsettling.
Imaginatively written by Charlie Kaufman (who also wrote 'Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind' and 'Being John Malkovich' among other notable creations), this is based on his own play, and he here shares directing credits with Duke Johnson

Michael Stone (voiced by David Thewlis) is an English lecturer and writer who gives inspirational motivation to service providers, flying in to Cincinatti from L.A. for one day to deliver a lecture. He settles into his hotel room - but before then in the aeroplane, in the taxi, the hotel staff, we've become aware that all the other characters (except one) with which he interacts, male and female, have identical or very similar faces - and as if to underline their 'same-ness' they are all voiced by Tom Noonan, men and women alike, in same-sounding voice.
The sole exception is a young woman (the nickname of the film's title) whom he by chance encounters in the hotel, slightly different facially, and voiced by Jennifer Jason Leigh. He invites her back to his room - where things develop. But right from the film's start we've seen that Stone's own interaction abilities with others are somewhat stunted and less than the ideal on which he himself lectures.

This is another of those films without clear resolution, which may well leave some unsatisfied. Not so myself, though ever since it was over (about three hours ago) I've been reflecting on whether there was a key element of the story, or its realisation on screen, which was staring me in the face but which I failed to recognise and appreciate. Re-reading now some of the reviews I come to the conclusion that this is not so. So I accept it being left as an enigma dangling in the air, which itself is perfectly fine.
Btw: There's a parallel with a certain scene in Kaufman's 'Being John Malkovich' where everyone has that actor's face, whilst here they all have the same facial features - well, all except Stone and the young woman.

I did like 'Anomalisa' but doubt if it's going to leave a lasting impression on my memory, though I may be wrong. However, its strangeness (in a positive sense) carries it..............6.5.


  1. I just popped over to you tube to view the trailer. I hadn't heard of this one. The trailer plus your review have me intrigued. It seems to be a film I will quite enjoy. It's now on "the list". Thanks!

    1. It's quite an arresting film, F.B., largely because of its visuals, and one which didn't bore me for a moment. I think you'll get 90 mins entertainment out of it as I did.