For the introspective film goers out there clamoring for the originality of cinematic storytelling, look no further. Charlie Kaufman, the acclaimed writer behind films such as Being John Malcovich, Adaptation, and Eternal Sunshine of a Spotless Mind has created a stop motion masterpiece for the adults that explores the nature of people and the idiosyncrasies that are harvested through experiences and uncertainty. With the voice talents of David Thewlis, Jennifer Jason Leigh, and Tom Noonan, these three are the only voices you hear through the entire film as you are transported to an almost frighteningly “realistic” depiction of the everyday lives of a man with conflict and doubt.
Thewlis is Michael, an author and speaker behind the topic of customer service, does not know how to deeply connect with people and becomes a droll shell of himself in the process. On a business trip, he meets a collection of colorful characters that all play their role as keys that unlock a deep seeded emotional reaction to Michael that later feel like a puzzle we have to try to solve. Thewlis does not show his face in any way as Michael but lends what could possibly be the most oxymoronic, yet accurate explanation of the film itself, and it’s something Animal Planet has sadly coined for their channel, “Surprisingly human”.
Michael is distant, he’s awkward, and he is impatient with the people around him, but the question is why? This film is a smartly written character study for adults with a style that is all from the eccentric brilliance that is Charlie Kaufman’s imagination. At times, the satire is that of the best episodes of South Park mixed with the emotional gravitas of a documentary which lends a mixture of humor with the realism that is shown through the graphic depictions of the human anatomy while proving that even though they are dolls, this is exactly how we’d feel if there were live-action people acting out the scenes. It is because of that innate ability to make us forget that these are weird doll like creations that gives this film is “masterpiece” caliber title. A film that is capable of transporting us to its world without forcing anything down our throats is a sign of an absolutely brilliant story and direction of focus.
Even if you get a chance to see this more than once, you will be hard pressed to not find something new and deeply involved from the plot. Mirroring reality while giving the illusion of fantasy is what makes Anomalisa such a captivating film. It makes me wonder what is truly the fantastic and what is merely the average and how love has such a present role in all of it. Is it love for others or love for ourselves or an amalgam of both? The movie does not leaves us on a cliffhanger, but more of an open ended conclusion. Who ends up being right in the situations that arise and should there have been more or less consequence? It’s a film about a person that deals with people and people that try to deal with one person and those differing sides collide in an artistically crafted adult story that can strike a chord with humor, drama, and fantasy as Kaufman may be neck and neck with anyone at the Oscars for Best Original Screenplay.
I was floored by Kaufman’s latest imaginative wonderland of miniature proportions and I am convinced most of you will be too. It gets you talking whether you enjoy the film or not and will likely guarantee a thumbs up for originality and authenticity of the human experience without humans ever being present (physically) through the film. The dialogue is strong and endearing as are the characters you end up seeing. It is shocking without ever being gratuitous and shows respect to the natural occurrences that come from people. Impulses are shown and emotions spoken and unspoken with absolute success and proves to be a great new film for the involved film fan to check out, you won’t be disappointed.