Movie Review: Anomalisa

By Jonathan Fuchs, Copy Editor

[Starburns Industries; 2016]

Rating: 4.5/5

After seven years of silence following his magnum opus Synecdoche, New York, visionary filmmaker Charlie Kaufman has returned with Anomalisa, a stop-motion animated film that discusses the ideas of love and humanity. Instead of a feel-good film like the trailer would have you think, however, Anomalisa is a haunting, gripping film that also tackles living with depression and loneliness. Though it might be one of the strangest and most complex movies you’ll ever see, Anomalisa will forever be known as a modern classic and will be praised for years to come.

The film follows Michael Stone (David Thewlis), a self-help author who travels to Cincinnati to promote his latest book. He is depressed and sees everyone around him as plain and identical (even his own wife and child), until he meets Lisa (Jennifer Jason Leigh), who helps him fall in love again.

The film’s unique aspects include the fact that there are only three voice actors in the entire movie. Literally every other character in the film is voiced by Tom Noonan, which ties into the idea that Stone finds everyone identical. The look of the film is phenomenal, especially with the 3-D printed puppets, as they help create ideas that would’ve been difficult to explain in a live-action movie and transcend the feel of humanity. The film’s writing and direction is unlike anything you’ll ever see, especially since none of the more complex ideas are force-fed to the audience; they are encouraged to figure all of that out for themselves.

The way the film feels is exactly like any other Charlie Kaufman movie, which can be a problem for anyone walking into the theater expecting a movie similar to the trailer. One needs to know that this is not an everyday feel-good dramedy; this is an extremely confusing and symbolic look at what it means to be human, and how it feels to be lonely, depressed and lost.

Anomalia is a thoughtful, complex and beautiful film that will stick with you with its clever writing and intense delivery. Its strange perspective and awkward atmosphere adds to the film’s humanity, which is still strong despite the film’s cast being made up entirely of puppets. It will haunt you and make you think like no movie that has come before it.

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