Let me start with a warning. The first words I heard after ”Anomalisa” ended were “Well, that was a terrible film,” followed by, “it’s too weird for me.” Then leaving the theater, I heard “why the hell was that animated?” Outside the theater, as I listened with other preview goers, lots of folks discussed how much they disliked or even hated the movie. A favorite comment:“I hated it, but I feel like it’s important.”
Now let me tell you how much I liked it.
Anomalisa follows Michael Stone, (David Thewlis) an author that specializes in customer service, who is depressed by how similar and uninteresting everyone is, until he meets someone out of the ordinary: Lisa. (Jennifer Jason Leigh)
I know; sounds cliched and uninteresting. It succeeds in its execution, however. This is a very unique and adult film, greatly crafted and metaphorical. Despite one of the quotes above, “why the hell was that animated,” this film has a use for its animation; a metaphorical use. It's also surprisingly very funny, despite the depressing themes. The humor comes from a very awkward place -- our lead’s introverted ways -- ways most of us can relate to. The awkwardness also helps set up Michael’s depressed mindset. Hitchcock once said "drama is life with the dull bits left out." This film is real life, but not dull.
This film also had a very handmade feel to it. The entire movie was funded through kickstarter.com, with a budget of about $8,000,000, which is pretty tiny for a movie. You can see tiny hairs on the puppets moving around because of people moving the puppets, since it's stop-motion. It gives the movie a controlled feeling to it, which works very well with the story.
Charlie Kaufman is known for his screenwriting; he's written movies like Being John Malkovich, Adaptation, and Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind. Lately, he's been directing as well, with Synecdoche, New York being his directorial debut. So far, he's doing great, as he and Duke Johnson (known for his work on Moral Orel) direct pretty well, with their longer takes emphasizing long periods of awkwardness. (And Charlie Kaufman writes another great script, along with the direction)
If there's any quarrel I could take with this movie, it's that it may be too weird for some audiences. The animation can make some people uncomfortable, particularly during a certain scene. You know what I'm talking about if you've seen the movie. While that might be an issue for some, it wasn’t for me.I found it one of the most interesting films I've seen this year. Certainly the best animated movie of the year, if you’re thinking award categories. (And I loved “Inside Out.”) It will stick with you after you've left the theater. Please give it at least a try, but if you don't like it, don't say I didn't warn you.