Puppets. Where Matt Stone and Trey Parker were genius at making us laugh at the absurdity of a particular mindset in dealing with counter terrorism and terrorism itself ‘EMERRRIKA (FILL IN THE BLACK) YEAH!’ Charlie Kaufman has become the architect at making us really pause for thought at the human condition, through the medium of puppetry in an animated stock motion film, asking us questions such as ‘What is it to ache?’ With Anomalisa, he does this, oh so expertly, through the central character of Michael Stone, voiced by David Thewlis, a man out of love with life and a well-known and respected author on customer service. Michael is disconnected from his wife and son, and the world at large. He views people in general as dull and samey (a made up ish word…forgive me) which is cleverly executed through the voice of Tom Noonan, who plays everyone that Michael comes into contact with one exception – dot-dot-dot (that means we’ll just leave that hanging for a bit).
Utterly miserable and on an overnight stay in a rather plush hotel in Cincinatti before the launch of his much anticipated book ‘How May I help You, Help Them?’ Ironic much? Michael is alone, and very much plagued by the hurt words of an ex flame, Bella, whom he walked out on years before.
Yearning for connection, he stumbles across Lisa, voiced by Jennifer Jason-Leigh (that was the dot-dot-dot reveal by the way) an awkward woman and huge fan of Michael’s work, she is also staying at the hotel with a friend. Both giddy with excitement at having met their customer service guru / hero. That’s a thing right? So whilst it is a painful take on the state of modern times, it also manages to find humour. Meeting Lisa is the first time Michael can recall having made a real connection, which brings revelation and adventure to his otherwise grey life.
Beautifully brought to life by Duke Johnson (who co-directed with Kaufman) the characters in Anomalisa take you on a thoughtful journey and touches you in way that doesn’t have you screaming ‘WHAT DOES IT ALL MEAN?’ Modern, with charm and bags of class, Kaufman invites you to ask yourself the subtle, yet difficult questions.
Take a look at the Trailer
Reviewed by Chantelle Dusette