Who would have thought that one of the most deep, human films of 2015 would be an animated film.
Anomalisa, nominee of Best Animated Feature, is a stop-motion film from Oscar winning writer Charlie Kaufman (Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, Adaptation), who also co-directed the film with Duke Johnson. It’s a complex film about human emotions and love, crafted into some jaw-dropping stop-motion work. Plus, it features three voices throughout the whole film from David Thewlis, Jennifer Jason Leigh and Tom Noonan.
Michael Stone (Thewlis) has just landed in Cincinnati, Ohio for a conference that he will be speaking at on improving customer service. Before landing, he opens a hand written letter from a lady he use to love, Bella. He starts to think about her and the times they had together before Michael just took off with no warning.
After leaving the airport, Michael gets in a taxi cab so that he can get to his hotel. All of the faces around Michael are the same face, along with the voices, because he doesn’t see many people. He sees them as generic human beings and starts to get very frustrated with how and how much each persons speaks.
Once inside his room, Michael calls his wife and son in LA to let them know that he made it. Then he calls Bella to see if she would be up for having a drink with him at the hotel bar. She agrees to do so, but it ends up going sour when Bella starts to get frustrated with Michael’s lack of answers as to why he left her so suddenly.
So Michael goes back to the hotel room to take a shower, when he hears a woman’s voice that is separated from the same voice that he keeps hearing. This to him as a wonderful experience, and he runs down the hall knocking on doors so that he can find this woman. And when he does, he finds that the woman, Lisa, is staying with a coworker, and the two of them are huge fans, in town for the conference. So Michael invites them for a drink in the hotel bar.
Many mojitos later, the three of them return to their rooms, but Michael invites Lisa into his bedroom for a nightcap and conversation, which eventually leads to sex. Michael hasn’t felt this good in a long time and really doesn’t want to lose Lisa. However, the next morning Michael’s mood starts to shift again, and his life beings to look as though he may never be happy with anything or anyone. He doesn’t see things for who or what they are.
The concept and film is a work of art that will only be appreciated by the people who enjoy deep films about human existence. The voices from David Thewlis and Jennifer Jason Leigh are very good, making this another critically acclaimed film for Leigh after her Best Supporting Actress nominee for The Hateful Eight.
BUT, the real beauty comes from the masterful puppetry and well written screenplay from Charlie Kaufman. It may be a little slow at times, but it’s a very human film that deals with complex emotions and situations, topped with a touch of Kaufman’s style that we know from his other films.
Anomalisa is definitely not a mainstream film, but it’s a very good film that deserves a lot more attention. However, films like this are often ignored by the mass public due to the deep meanings behind he situation. Charlie Kaufman is definitely a talented writer, and I am kind of surprised this didn’t earn screenplay nomination. Rated R.