Lonely Stop-Motion – Anomalisa (2015)

The creative process is in full effect.  So this is about a businessman (David Thewlis) who is in town to give a speech at a conference.  He’s lonesome and desperate for a connection, which leads to some interesting encounters at the hotel he is staying at.  To get your attention for this, all I should have to say is two little words: Charlie Kaufman.  The man is a genius and possesses a brain that functions much differently than anybody else’s.  Even when his projects aren’t wholly successful, like Synecdoche, New York, you can at least admire them for the sheer ambition behind it.  When it fires on all cylinders like Being John Malkovich, you get something noteworthy, memorable and special, and Anomalisa is much closer to the latter than it is the former.

1I can promise you that this wasn’t easy to make.

This is impressive for a number of reasons, the biggest one being that stop motion is so hard to do.  The medium itself is so taxing and time consuming that you only see a full length feature every one to two years.  Complementing the tricky art form is some really great voice work from a very limited number of people.  While there are a number of characters featured throughout, there are only three people credited, and there is an important reason behind that, which I will not give away because it may be breaching into spoiler territory.  The speech patterns are a bit stilted, so it takes a short while to adjust, but the reason why the dialogue is parsed that way is to underline specific moments.  And even if the speech may not seem overly realistic, the conversations that transpose completely are, and I love how this shows how an exchange of dialogue that you would have with one person goes one way based on a certain level of comfort, but if someone you’re more familiar with would pose to you the very same question, you would give out a completely different answer.

2Which is hilarious, given how few people are doing the voices here.

On the poster to this, there is a critic’s quote that states that this is one of the most human stories of the year, which I have to wholeheartedly agree with.  This feels real and genuine, which is ironic, given that these are all stop-motion figures.  The script is really well-crafted to match all the quality artistry, and the amount of swearing feels authentic as well; there’s not too much when you are talking to another person, but if you’re alone just muttering to yourself, you would typically let a few more curse words fly than you normally would.  Also, there is a sex scene in here that feels completely realistic for two people’s first encounter; it doesn’t cut away, and it is as awkward and elbow-y as you can imagine.  Anomalisa is a movie that isn’t afraid to get uncomfortable, has lots of sad undertones, and it truly is one of the most creative and poignant movies released in the 2015 year.

Anomalisa (2015) ****1/2

– Critic for Hire

Want to see where this fell in my list of best films of the 2015?  See for yourself here.


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