This has been a film I’ve been dying to see for a while ever since it came out a little before the Oscars back in 2015. Thats the main reason why we Kyle and I decided to start this site, so that each of us can finally see films like this that have been on our radar and we have almost a cooperative force to see it. So I was glad that I was finally able to see this movie because it is so unique! But, I didn’t initially feel this way. Every once in a while, I see a movie where when I’m finished I maybe don’t feel love for it but there’s something inside me that tells me “that was a damn great movie”. So when I finished Charlie Kaufman’s animated film, “Anomalisa”, I felt exactly this way. Sometimes, a film is just so deep and layered that on your first viewing some of the details maybe go over your head because of information overload, even one of minimal and small scale as this one. As I began reading into the themes and theories about what some of the film and thinking about what I just watched, both some of my initial theories were confirmed and even more so, ones that I hadn’t even thought of. This was a damn great movie.
“Anomalisa” tells the story of author, Michael Stone (David Thewlis), a negative clearly unhappy man that is at the Begoli hotel to give a talk to promote his new book. Something is very off in Michael’s life. Every person that Michael sees looks and sounds a little too similar. Actually they look and sound exactly the same. Everyone in Michael’s life has the same face and voice and is voiced by the same actor, Tom Noonan. His wife, his son, his ex-flame, every single person who enters his life is the same person and it clearly has taken its toll on Michael. That changes when he hears the voice of Lisa (Jennifer Jason Leigh) and is immediately drawn to find her because he finally hears a female voice and hopes to finally connect with another person and not just another version of this figure he sees in everyone. From then on comes a man’s single night desperate journey to connect to someone.
Anomalisa is an animated film but if you know anything about Charlie Kaufman, it is very unorthodox. The filmmaker used 3D printers to create each of these characters and then frame by frame created this story. It is a stop-motion film but it is the most disturbingly realistic version of this animation style I’ve ever seen. It honestly took me the first 5-10 minutes to get used to this technique and I don’t know if I’d qualify that as really a “negative” but its just a personal quip I had. Still, this film is magnificent looking. I said it was frame by frame but there are a few masterful shots that continue without a cut and I was awestruck with how much attention to detail was put into this movie. This film also happens to contain the most realistic sex scene in a movie I’ve ever seen. This wasn’t hollywoodized sex. It was awkward and uncomfortable but felt so genuine that I applaud Kaufman. When I was doing research into this movie, I found out that this is a real condition that actual people suffer from. Kaufman bases a ton of little plot details around this condition and once you pick them up, it blows your mind. What he even does better is play with your head and makes you feel what Michael feels, not knowing what’s real and what he’s only seeing.
Each performance is beautiful. For there only being 3 actors in this movie, Each character has their own little flavor, particularly Tom Noonan playing everyone in the film that isn’t Michael or Lisa, he still brings little subtle differences to each “character” while still using his own normal voice. This helped me connect with Michael. I only imagine what it would be like to see the same person over and over again in every person I talk to or meet that I think I’d go mad. When he meets Lisa, I found myself rooting for him which is weird since I don’t condone cheating on someone’s wife but since his wife has the same face as his son, I feel this is an exception. Lisa was so insecure and sweet that I honestly loved her as a character. Jennifer Jason Leigh’s voice was the perfect match for this role, although I still picture her as Daisy Domergue in The Hateful Eight so I feel juxtaposed.
This is a very unique film. It plays against conventions from the first frame and I honestly loved that. I think that anyone that loves original and deep movies should check this one out. I want to watch it again and try and pick out the other subtle details that Kauffman sprinkled in and whenever a movie does that, I can’t help but just love it.
Kyle’s Next Movie:
Here’s another deeply layered film that I actually saw about a month ago and haven’t stopped thinking about since. It’s actually similar in ways to Anomalisa so it actually changed out my original choice for him that I’ll give next week. This film is one of the most truly haunting and disturbing film’s I’ve seen and has quite possibly one of the scariest endings ever both visually and psychologically. I think Kyle as someone who like me, really likes Denis Villenueve’s work, he’s gonna love it. It’s another film that at first you don’t necessarily know what to think but the more thought and research you put into it, the more mind blown you end up. Enjoy!