The story-line of Anomalisa may sound like many other movies but I’ve never seen a movie like it before.
The film tells of Michael Stone, husband, father and respected author of “How May I Help You Help Them?” who is crippled by the mundanity of his life. On a business trip to Cincinnati, where he’s scheduled to speak at a convention for customer service professionals, he checks into the Fregoli Hotel. There, he is amazed to discover a possible escape from his desperation in the form of an unassuming Akron baked goods sales rep, Lisa, who may or may not be the love of his life.
What makes this R- rated movie written and co-directed by Charlie Kaufman (Being John Malkovich and Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind) so different is the cast – they are all puppets!
But they are very true to life and they do everything that humans do, including making love. Kaufman and co-director Duke Johnson animate their brows and mouths so their speech is smooth but the faces are false. A crack runs across the bridge of the puppets’ noses and circles their features so it looks like a mask. Yet the saggy, puffy imperfections of their bodies look real as do all the movie’s sets.
Providing Michael’s voice is David Thewlis, while Lisa is voiced by Jennifer Jason Leigh. All the other `characters’ including Michael’s wife and son, a former lover and the hotel staff are voiced in the same delivery by Tom Noonan- a ploy used by Kaufman to show just how boring and mundane Stone finds his life.
While Anomalisa is one of the strangest movies I have seen there are some funny scenes in what is basically a story about a sad, depressed man. The attention to detail in the stop-motion animation is at times remarkable which is probably why Anomalisa has been nominated for an Oscar for the best animated feature film.
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