Wednesday, March 16, 2016


Moira+I went to the Watershed this afternoon to see Duke Johnson/Charlie Kaufman’s intriguing, somewhat mystifying, film “Anomalisa”. It’s an unnervingly detailed puppet animation about a motivational speaker who spends one unhappy night in a Cincinnati hotel. The puppet animation initially put me in mind of Wallace+Gromit and Thunderbirds… but the very realistic sex scene (really!) soon put an end to that!
The main character, Michael Stone (voiced by David Thewlis), is an expatriate Brit in the US, who has made a successful career for himself writing motivational books about customer service (yes, I know) and is in Cincinnati to give a speech on the subject. Stone’s certainly not a charismatic character and he gives every indication of being clinically depressed or, at the very least, bored and/or alienated from the world/everyday life.
All the other characters (men, women and children) in the film, apart from one, are blandly, identically voiced by Tom Noonan… the one exception is Lisa (nicknamed “Anomalisa” by Stone), voiced by Jennifer Jason Leigh. Lisa is a bit of a fan (she’s a call-centre worker, has got his latest book and can’t quite believe when they get together) and Stone tracks her down when he hears her “different” voice passing outside his hotel room…
Perhaps, the sameness of voices relates to an uncanny “mask” required in order to achieve a pleasant customer service manner? Perhaps the puppetry is another reference to the invisible person on the end of the call-centre telephone?
The whole film is peculiarly creepy – the animation/puppetry is brilliant (realistic and yet completely artificial), the clothes frequently don’t fit (a bit like the Thunderbirds Parker!?) and there are times when the characters’ legs appear to be unduly short or misshapen (or was that just me?).
I found the film beguiling, sad, a little confusing (but that’s probably just me - I need to read LOTS of analytical reviews perhaps?) and completely fascinating.
I think you need to see it.
PS: I particularly enjoyed the scene in which Lisa, closing her eyes, wins Michael over with song - softly chanting Cyndi Lauper’s “Girls Just Want to Have Fun”... it's really rather lovely. 

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