I think you’re extraordinary.
I don’t know yet. It’s just obvious to me that you are.
Anomalisa is the latest gem from our modern weirdo, Charlie Kaufman, and it’s another triumph. The film is animated, an adult story of isolation, depression and connection told with stop motion puppets. It’s essentially the story of Michael Stone, an author/motivational speaker-type and the life of isolation and loneliness he leads until a chance encounter with a woman in a hotel reawakens him from his existential stupor. It’s bolstered by a trio of great vocal performances. David Thewlis, one of my favorite actors, gives a wonderful performance as Michael, communicating a world of sadness and depression with his voice. Jennifer Jason Leigh (kind of a comeback year, between this and Hateful Eight) is very good as the awkward woman he befriends. And then there’s Tom Noonan as . . . well, no spoilers; just Tom Noonan (and don’t even check on IMDB). And the puppet work is just incredible; the fine work done with the facial expressions and body language make these characters feel totally real and genuinely emotional. There are close-ups here where you’d swear you’re really seeing emotion on these faces. And some really knock out sequences; the most talked about is a sex scene that is genuinely brilliant. To make a sex scene with puppets anything but hilarious in our post Team America world seems impossible, but it’s a really beautiful, tender scene amazingly enough. And the script has the courage of its grim convictions and pulls off an ending that you might not expect. The movie is often quite funny and often quite Twilight-Zoney, but it’s ultimately a story that feels absolutely real and true in the emotional sense. It’s the kind of film that really had to be done in this way; it wouldn’t be possible to make all the ideas in this film work in a live action movie. It’s a stirring experimental film, a thought-provoking philosophical experiment, an emotionally effecting character study and you’ll be thinking about it long after you’ve finished watching it. 4 stars.
tl;dr – Kaufman’s film utilizes puppets instead of actors, but it connects on a visceral and emotional human level with its story of loneliness and connection; beautiful, tender and sad. 4 stars.