Steven Escareno is an amateur film critic who writes about movies in his spare time.
Directors: Duke Johnson, Charlie Kaufman
Writer: Charlie Kaufman
Voice Cast: David Thewlis, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Tom Noonan
Synopsis: A man crippled by the mundanity of his life experiences something out of the ordinary.
MPAA Rating: Rated R for strong sexual content, graphic nudity and language
9.9 / 10
- Great animation. Excellent visual effects.
- Camera work was great.
- Use of voice acting was unique. Kind of strange getting used to at first, but it definitely helped the movie, in terms of it's narrative.
- The script was amazing. Chalked full of symbolism and metaphors about the complexities of life itself, while making us ponder the true meaning of existence.
- Pacing was great.
- Direction was fantastic.
- One particular scene was kind of unnecessary. Like the sex scene for instance didn't really serve any purpose to the story other than allow it's audience to see two puppets have sex for five seconds; complete with puppet genitalia.....
Personally, I think the film could've just had them make out, and then transition to where they're both cuddling in bed naked; hence giving the implied notion that they had sex rather than actually showing us. and it would've worked just fine.
Arguably the weirdest damn animated movie that you'll ever see
Whether you love or hate Charlie Kaufman's style of writing, you have to admit that some of his work can give you something to think about. Before I start this review, I would like to say that I've been something of a fan of his work for quite sometime. Dating back to when I first saw "Being John Malkovich", to his surprisingly weird yet deep artsy drama, "Adaptation." Hell, "Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind" still remains one of my all time favorite love stories to this date, so I'm certainly no stranger to Charlie's body of work.
While I'm not going to pretend that I've seen everything he's ever made, I will say that I haven't seen anything that he's done yet that I haven't liked before. And "Anomalisa" seems to be no exception. The story is an adult animated movie done entirely in stop motion animation. Unlike most stop motion movies, you can actually see the little crevices and joints on all of the puppets being used. In fact, the movie itself doesn't even try to hide the fact that they're puppets.
In a couple of dream sequences, you see the main character's jaw literally popping off, which sort of suggests that the movie itself might be self aware of this fact. Apart from the main character, almost everyone else has the same voice, as it's suggested throughout the film that almost everyone isn't real except for him. It's a strange movie indeed, as it alludes to various abstract concepts like individuality, and how sometimes we often pine for things that we can't have in life.
The story follows a character by the name of Michael Stone (David Thewlis), who's miserable in his marriage. He goes from relationship to relationship pining for something better, yet it never quite works out for him. He can never seem to explain why, but all that changes when he meets Lisa Hesselman (Jennifer Jason Leigh), a girl that somehow doesn't sound like everyone else. In fact, she actually sounds like a real woman, which makes both her and Michael the only two people that have distinct voices throughout the entire movie, while everyone else is voiced by Tom Noonan.
Needless to say, the two fall madly in love with each other overnight, and Michael even agrees to leave his wife and son just to be with her, as she seems different than anyone else he's ever met. She's an anomaly to him because of how perfect and modest she is; hence the nickname "Anomalisa." However, he starts to have bizarre hallucinations and nightmares. It becomes heavily implied that their fates are not of their own, and that someone or something wants to keep them apart. He becomes so trapped by these hallucinations and dreams that he starts to question the fabric of his own reality. He even starts to wonder if anyone is real at all.
That perhaps both him and Lisa are the only real human beings that exist, and that some grand puppet master wants to keep him from her. He even had a dream where his jaw literally pops off his face; hence adding more fuel to his paranoia. It eventually gets to the point that he starts to realize that even if he ends up with his beloved Lisa that he may not be able to escape fate itself, as it seems his life may not be entirely his own.
Without delving too deeply into spoiler territory, it does make you wonder what the concept of this film was truly about. As a friend of mine suggested recently, it seems to be something reminiscent of a wolf howling for the moon. A lonely animal craving something it cannot have. Maybe, "Anomalisa" is a metaphor for this concept of a human being craving for something they can't have, or the concept of "free will" is nothing more than an illusion. Maybe we're all victims of fate, as we're blissfully unaware of it's whims.
Hell, it could be something as simple as the age old lesson, "the grass will always look greener on the other side" type shtick. Or maybe Charlie Kaufman was on crack, when he wrote the script, as this film can literally f**k with your mind if you think too deeply into it's concepts.
But overall, it's a rather interesting story to watch unfold. Granted, it's probably one of the strangest animated films that I've ever seen, but it's entertaining to watch. The story itself is thought provokingly deep with concepts that stick with you longer after you see the film, and the visuals compliment the complexities of the story quite nicely.
All I can say to readers is that if you're into artsy films that'll f**k with your mind, while hitting you with heavy doses of thought provoking symbolism about life itself, then "Anomalisa" is definitely worth checking out, as I can promise most of my readers that you probably never seen a movie like this before.
© 2016 Stevennix2001
Your Brother on March 27, 2016:
I can see what you're saying with the reality we create for ourselves, but this story doesn't convey such in an interesting way at all to me. If Lisa's voice never changed to everyone else's the day after they had sex, maybe I could be on board, but since her voice assimilated to everyone else's in his mind, this said to me that this guy isn't lost, he's just a self absorbed jerk and it's extremely difficult to feel for this guy as a result. Instead I found myself feeling for anyone who crossed paths with this prick.
Stevennix2001 (author) on March 27, 2016:
Hmm that's an interesting way to look at it, and I can definitely see you're point of view. However, I kind of viewed more from an abstract point of view as in the film might've been talking about the existentialism of humanity itself, and how sometimes we pine for things we simply can't have. And how no matter what we do in life, we're always going to be forced to live in the reality that we create for ourselves. But again, that's just me, but I can definitely see why some people wouldn't like this movie. However, I appreciate you sharing your views about the movie though, as I never looked at it like that before.
I guess the great thing about "Anomalisa" is that it's one of those rare films that can be open to interpretation; similar to how "shutter island" was if you catch my drift.
Your Brother on March 27, 2016:
Additionally, further proof Michael is a self absorbed dick is how the next day after he "conquers" Lisa, her voice immediately becomes like everyone else's he hears in his delusional, self-absorbed brain of his, not to mention his inability to even go through the motions to finish the lecture people paid him to speak at. Like his "lecture," the film is a lack thereof and was a waste of time to me. End of rant lol
Your Brother on March 27, 2016:
You know I'm a huge Charlie Kaufman fan, but this was a huge disappointment to me from Kaufman (or anyone else for that matter). It was completely overrated to me; it's basically the story of a self-absorbed douchebag who's so wrapped up in himself he elects to do everything he can while in Cincinnati for work to cheat (again) on his loving, truly caring wife and barely gives a flying f*ck about his son (who seems to love and idolize his dad based on the scene they show his son in). I understand the symbolism that everyone's voice is the same because it shows how he hasn't felt a "human connection" until he finds Lisa, his latest conquest in adultery, but to me it's merely a device to further show how selfish and completely disconnected and delusional this guy is. Kaufman sees the world differently than we do, and it shows in his far superior work (Adaptation, Being John Malkovich, Eternal Sunshine...), but those films ideas and views of existentialism showed a sense of humanity and pulled the audience in, whereas this film had me pulling for it to be over ASAP.
The only things that I found "revelatory" about this movie have nothing to do with the actual story or really the movie itself:
1. The stop motion animation was unique;
2. The fact that Charlie Kaufman was able to get this piece of garbage funded initially as a play, and then as a feature film!? His name on it is the only reason this happened;
3. The fact that the dumbass Academy nominated this pile for an Oscar...wait, it's the Oscars nevermind.