Anomalisa

(2015)

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Title:
Anomalisa
Release Date:
30th December 2015
Runtime:
90 min
MPAA Rating:
R
Genres:
Directors:
Charlie Kaufman, Duke Johnson
Writers:
Charlie Kaufman
Languages:
English, Italian, Japanese
Stream Quality:
1080p / 720p / 480p

Storyline

Michael Stone, an author that specializes in customer service, is a man who is unable to interact deeply with other people. His low sensitivity to excitement, and his lack of interest made him a man with a repetitive life on his own perspective. But, when he went on a business trip, he met a stranger - an extraordinary stranger, which slowly became a cure for his negative view on life that possibly will change his mundane life.

Ratings

Rotten Tomatoes Critics - Certified Fresh 92%
Rotten Tomatoes Audience 72%
IMDb Rating 7.3

Casts

David Thewlis as Michael Stone
Jennifer Jason Leigh as Lisa Hesselman
Tom Noonan as Everyone else

Movie Reviews

Reviewed by cnewton18 21st January, 2016

50 Shades of Clay

This movie had potential. It started out with an interesting premise and a few laughs. the animation was also really beautiful. However, this film had basically no story. A third of its runtime was one long sex scene. The main character had no arc. He was the same person at the end of the film that he was at the start. Typically when you film something with no story and sex it's called porn. The pacing is also terrible and I was bored with this movie from about 10 minutes in. I don't need to see the first world problems of this successful man with mental issues and him preying on a young woman. I haven't even mentioned the continuous unnecessary F-bombs. The only redeeming quality of this film is the talented animation. I only wish the artist didn't have to animate so many penises.

Reviewed by Michael Maggiano 7th January, 2016

One good metaphor does not stretch to 90 minutes

This padded-out feature would have made a very good short. There are good scenes, and ideas worth considering, but absolutely not enough of them for a feature. The stop-motion and design are great, but it has problems on the story/art/intellect side because of stretching the run time past what the story/themes can bear. Too many of the scenes (whether attempts at exploring the humdrum, or attempts at absurdist conflict) subtract more than they add to the whole. The main metaphor of a Fregoli delusion well-represents a kind of mid-life crisis, but it also loses quite a bit in flattening out the mid-life crisis into a general alienation (granted, with a mix of older existentialism issues, and newer ones such as 'personhood as illusory'). In a short film, this bare-bones metaphor would have enough of a poetic quality to work. But here, when the story is stretched out, we are constantly reminded of the lack of particulars. And at some point, not telling us more about the main character and his problems is just coy or frigid on Kaufman's part. I should note that I have no problem with the main character being unsympathetic, nor the attempt at exploring the humdrum side of life in many scenes, nor the film's plot/conclusions being flat/troubling/puzzling, nor scenes that aren't always "entertaining". But those scenes have to do something besides show you that dull dialogue imitates dull talk in life. And if Kaufman was interested in tone/lyricism, theme, and irony OVER human particulars (and therefore other things that art can do), he was obliged to take careful, un-self-indulgent account of what the story could sustain. For the second film in a row, he hasn't. I see why, on the the business side, this CAN'T be a $3M short when you can make a $10M feature instead. But this has no bearing on whether the feature has problems. And I understand why a lack of human particulars is fitting for puppets (and how from an ironic, existentialist and behaviorist point-of-view, we might be more puppets than we care to admit), but a few modern ideas don't automatically make 90 minutes worth of story.

Reviewed by David Ferguson ([email protected]) 1st January, 2016

The Voice of a Songbird

Greetings again from the darkness. Seeing Charlie Kaufman's work described as "strange", "weird" or "bizarre" makes me cringe a little because most of his films hit my sweet spot of curiosity, insight and expression. I easily relate to his creative vision and commentary in films like Being John Malkovich, Adaptation, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, and Synecdoche, New York. His characters are always searching for something and trying to discern the meaning of life … or at least of their own life. This latest has Kaufman adapting his own stage production, and collaborating with co-director Duke Johnson for what is likely (for the vast majority of us) our most startling existential stop-action animated puppet cinematic experience. The unusual opening of the film is a black screen with only background noise and voices, and the first chuckle occurred within about a minute thanks to one of my favorite cultural references of the year: "Kojak, not Kolchak". Slowly the screen evolves to show clouds in the sky, and soon an airplane appears and our first peek at Michael occurs … he's a passenger on a flight. The vast majority of the rest of the film takes place inside the Fregoli Hotel – aptly named because Michael seems to suffer from a twist on Fregoli Delusion (a person believes those around him are all the same person in disguise). We soon notice that Michael appears beaten down, even exasperated with life. He is an author in town to give a presentation on his specialty … Customer Service. The story continues along familiar lines of a business traveler in the midst of a mid-life crisis, until things change for him when he stumbles on a couple of his fans who are in town for his presentation. One of them is Lisa, whom Michael is attracted to thanks to her innocent energy and wonderful voice. What makes her voice so wonderful? Well, it turns out that Michael is voiced by British actor David Thewlis, Lisa is voiced by Jennifer Jason Leigh, and EVERY other character in the film (male or female) is voiced by Tom Noonan. Lisa and her voice are the anomaly that makes up the film's title … Michael is smitten with her because her voice is not like all the others - providing a spark of hope. Mr. Kaufman seems intent on making us realize how easily we can slip into a rut and simply go through the motions in life … every day and every person being pretty much like the rest. Michael has learned to wear his Customer Service mask – one who pretends to care about the issues of others. It's a terrific metaphor for someone refusing to face the responsibility for their own happiness. His awakening occurs at the hands (and in bed) with Lisa. Yes, you should be prepared for the uncommon and slightly unsettling site of Puppet Private Parts. The clumsy passion of the first encounter between Michael and Lisa does wonders for each of them … restoring her self-esteem and awakening him from his daily slumber of hopelessness. While the story itself is quite simple, the use of puppets prevents us from getting overly personal or judgmental with the characters, and forces us to deal with the emotional and mental aspects of what keeps so many from leading happy lives. Lisa's acapella version of "Girls Just Want to Have Fun" ignites the fuse in Michael, and just like that, both he and Lisa are jolted from their own self-imposed limitations. No longer able to just go through the motions, Michael's overreactions at breakfast and during his presentation are all part of his re-awakening … the most profound puppet awakening since Pinocchio. Perhaps Mr. Kaufman thought we might be more receptive to his message and observations if delivered by a non-threatening puppet, and perhaps he's correct. The message is delivered loudly and clearly … though I will probably hear Tom Noonan's voice in my nightmares. The look of the movie and the puppets is fantastic, and Carter Burwell provides yet another spot-on score.

Reviewed by (gsygsy) 4th December, 2015

Who are you?

The latest of Charlie Kaufmann's demonstrations of the effect of point-of-view on story-telling, Anomalisa takes its place in that magnificent line of works beginning with Being John Malkovich, through Adaptation, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, and Synecdoche New York, all works of genius. Taking its cue from a delusional condition, Kaufmann applies the point of view of a sufferer to an otherwise banal midlife crisis and comes up with a remarkable and completely unexpected way of presenting it to us. Kaufmann is awesome. As well as the terrific visuals, courtesy of co-director Duke Johnson and his team, there is yet another bullseye from composer Carter Burwell. The pace of the movie is leisurely. The material feels unusually stretched for a Kaufmann script, which may be because it apparently started out as a 40 minute work. Really, though, it doesn't matter. I'd rather spend a little too long with Anomalisa than five minutes with several other films I could mention. This, after all, is an amazing piece of art.

Reviewed by shadowyx12 10th October, 2015

Poignant, poetic, and heartfelt.

"Anomalisa" is in my opinion one of this year's most important films. The film centres on Michael Stone, a depressed customer service guru who struggles to connect with others, finally meeting someone he can truly connect with - a woman named Lisa. Anyone familiar with Kaufman's work knows that he has a tendency to write incredibly deep and complex stories embedded with a plethora of themes. "Anomalisa" might just be the one exception (or anomaly) to that fact. The story is surprisingly simple; most of it takes place over the course of 24 hours. The messages behind it, fortunately, will still require multiple viewings and further analysis in order to be fully grasped. The final synthesis is elegantly woven to near perfection and is at times humorous and even thrilling. Running at only 90 minutes, the film never feels slow nor bloated. I believe "Anomalisa" is a good starting point for those just starting to get into Kaufman's filmography. The stop-motion animation is some of the best that I have ever seen on the big screen. For a project that was funded on Kickstarter, I have to say that the quality of the animation is the equivalent to what you would see in an Aardman Animations or Laika production - if not better. There were certain shots that made me stop and really appreciate the efforts that the team went through just to make all of their characters' movements flow realistically. Kudos to them! The reasons why I think "Anomalisa" is one of this year's most important films not only have to do with the way the film was financed and produced, but that it also opens up a dialogue on isolation and social disillusionment - they are usually seen as flaws inherent only within the individual, despite the fact that everyone plays some part in furthering it. "Anomalisa" is a true work of art on many levels. It is a simple story that touches on a wide range of emotions, riddled with the complexities of our perceptions on relationships. Do not be surprised if this film makes you laugh more than cry. Do not be surprised if this film makes you cry more than laugh - for that is the true beauty of this anomaly of a film.