Sunday, February 14, 2016

Movie Review: "Anomalisa" (2015)

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Director: Charlie Kaufman & Duke Johnson
Year: 2015
Rating: R
Running Time: 1 hour, 30 minutes

Michael Stone (voiced by David Thewlis), the author of a customer service guide book, is on a business trip to give a lecture in Cincinnati, Ohio. He is at a place where he is depressed about the monotony of life, but out of nowhere, Michael hears a different voice that makes him feel alive for the first time in a long time. 

"Anomalisa" is a stop-motion animated film from writer/director Charlie Kaufman. Those familiar with Kaufman's work like "Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind," "Adaptation, " and "Being John Malkovich" will know he writes extremely introspective films that often deal with depression, loss, love, and other psychological issues. "Anomalisa" is no different as it focuses on a one man who is depressed about the mundanity life is. The lead character, Michael Stone, voiced by David Thewlis, is an author who is married with a kid, but finds absolutely no joy in life. To him, everything is boring and everyone sounds the same, and we mean this literally. Everyone in this film sounds exactly the same. Everyone except for two characters are voiced by Tom Noonan. This is obviously done as reflection of Michael's psychological state and is a rather interesting and unique gimmick, one we had no idea about when first started watching. Michael is going to Cincinnati to give a speech about his book. Another city, another speech, another boring day. When he hears the voice of Lisa, voiced by Jennifer Jason Leigh, in his hotel hallway, he starts to snap out of his funk and actually gets excited about life again. He feels it is Lisa, who is obviously different to him in some way, who can bring happiness to his life, and it seems like she's the only one.

From here, "Anomalisa" follows down the usual paths we would expect and have become very familiar with in independent cinema. Overall, this is a standard character sketch, just presented in a unique, interesting, and original way. Is it worthy of the high praise it has been getting by the cinephile community? Maybe. We can totally see how it has gotten this response, and while we do like the movie just fine, it's not something we'd crave to watch again. The voice acting, while wonderful, comes together in a cacophony of dejectedness in a Kaufman's signature 'doom and gloom' attitude. However, we do appreciate Charlie Kaufman's attempt to be different in a world that feeds us the same crap endlessly, and boy, does he do things differently. It's a little defeatist and depressing, though, that he feels the need to constantly hammer audiences with the remembrance that life is an endless stream of mundane, but in its sadness, it is thought provoking. We get it, life is boring, then you die. This movie will most certainly not be for everyone, as is the case with a lot of independent cinema. It also features one of the weirdest, but strangely intimate and accurate sex scenes we've ever seen put on film, and remember, this is a stop-motion animated movie. We will say that even though we like the creativity of using Tom Noonan to voice everyone at once, what it artistically represents, it does also make conversations a little harder to follow whenever it goes further than one-on-one or over the phone. All in all, "Anomalisa" is worthy of your time if you are into off the beaten path types of films.

My Rating: 7/10
BigJ's Rating: 7/10
IMDB's Rating: 7.5/10
Rotten Tomatoes Rating: 92%
Do we recommend this movie: Sure, why not?
One year ago, we were watching: "The Boy Next Door"

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