By Cole Weinstein
“Anomalisa” is the end of a seven-year hiatus for one of cinema’s greatest minds, Charlie Kaufman. As the writer of the films “Being John Malkovich,” “Adaptation,” and “Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind,” Kaufman always presents a unique and meta look into modern society along with an interesting story to boot.
However, “Anomalisa” is not only written by Kaufman but also is his second directorial effort, 2007’s “Synecdoche, New York” being the other. It’s also a stop motion film, a filming style in which all of the set and characters are miniature figures and the movie is shot frame by frame, similar to “Coraline” or “ParaNorman”.
“Anomalisa” is the story of Michael Stone (David Thewlis), who has authored a guide to customer service titled "How May I Help You Help Them?" When he stops in Cincinnati to give a speech about his book he encounters something he wasn’t expecting: Lisa (Jennifer Jason Leigh).
Despite “Anomalisa” being Kaufman’s first stop-motion film, it is flawlessly crafted, thanks to the expertise of co-director and stop-motion expert Duke Johnson. Kaufman and Johnson utilize stop motion to add details and elements to “Anomalisa” that wouldn’t be possible with a live-action film. Stop motion is a difficult process and to see a film put so much detail into its presentation is really a cause for celebration.
As far as story goes, “Anomalisa” is Kaufman’s simplest film and a good introductory movie for anyone who wants to watch his work. The simplicity of the film’s surface allows viewers to dig deeper into the complex undertones of the story with ease. No repeated viewings are needed to begin to understand the complex themes of the film and the statements about humanity that Kaufman makes.
However, keep in mind that this is definitely not a film for everybody. “Anomalisa” is nothing like most stop motion films. Unlike ParaNorman, it is a mature film with very mature themes that not everyone will appreciate. That being said, there is no denying the film successfully did everything it set out to do.
“Anomalisa” is a complex, wonderful film that is accessible to even casual viewers. One of the best films of the year and adored by critics and fans alike, “Anomalisa” is a must see for all film fans.
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