Charlie Kaufman & Duke Johnson / David Thewlis, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Tom Noonan / Animation, Drama / 2016 / 15 / 90mins
LIFE IS MUNDANE, BORING, REPETITIVE.
And so it goes… at least, that’s what writer Charlie Kaufman believes.
At its core, Anomalisa wrestles with one question: what it means to be human. David Thewlis voices Michael Stone, a man at odds with his life, who comes across someone remarkable one night at a hotel in Cincinnati: Lisa (Jennifer Jason Leigh), a woman who sounds… different. Everyone apart from Thewlis and Jason Leigh is voiced by Tom Noonan, creating the idea that everyone is ‘the same’.
Quite interesting, then, that Kaufman turned to renowned stop-motion animator Duke Johnson to emphasise the nature of existence. It’s a clever ploy. A play on religion? Animator and the animated? God vs Filmmaker? It’s the edge of theory that Kaufman typically turns to in his work. There are two distinct moments that consciously reveal the animatronic nature of the characters. During one Michael’s lower face falls off entirely. It’s deliberate, a conscious effort to stylistically visualise our grappling with ourselves. Neat stuff.
Anomalisa has achieved widespread acclaim. Whilst I admit I’m pleased that the public are taking the time to tackle an artsy film, I get the feeling many simply sympathise with the content. Put simply, it’s a bland, depressing film that gets nowhere. So what if that’s a message in itself, it still leaves the audience hanging. Memento leaves the audience with countless questions and zero answers, but at least its core plot finishes to some degree. There is at least one complete circle. Anomalisa offers a window to a depressed man’s life and his failings. He does things that make him an arsehole, like have an affair; so, where do we go with this? Are we all intrinsically arseholes?
I was severely let down by this film. Fuck you if you think I don’t get it – I do – but this film opens a can of worms. I can’t give a film a good rating for two philosophical quirks. Michael’s not even an anti-hero – he’s a straight up arsehole. The questions he asks aren’t exactly overwhelming; everyone deals with these ‘existential’ crises every day. If everyone’s dealing with them, it’s normal.
Personally let down, but fans will love its animation concept. In every sense an extra-ordinary film.
Film as a Film – 3 / Target Audience – 4 / General Audience – 2
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By Source, Fair use, via Wikipedia.