Anomalisa and the wonders of stop motion
Michael Stone is the author of a successful self-help book, spending one night in Cincinnati to give a speech at a conference.
Michael Stone, the author of a successful self-help book, is spending one night in Cincinnati to give a speech at a conference. He is alone and frustrated, since, to him, everybody looks the same and sounds the same. Until he meets someone who is different, an anomaly to the rest of the world: Lisa.
Stop motion and character humanisation
Because of the stop motion technique used by the two directors, Charlie Kaufman and Duke Johnson, the production process was very long, but the result is unique. Puppet’s expressions and movements are incredibly realistic: not even that visible junction on their face – allowing them to have different expressions – is able to stop our empathy.
About this, Charlie Kaufman says in a Rolling Stone interview:
“When everything is evened out and smoothed out, it becomes somewhat soulless. We found over time that the quality of keeping it handmade created a kind of vulnerability and soulfulness“ (Rolling Stone article)
Puppets are imperfect, flawed just as humans are.
The issue of identity
Set in the dilated hours of a night, in a fancy but anonymous hotel, as all hotels are, Anomalisa deals with the issue of identity, not only on an existential level (as in Being John Malkovich), but also on a metafilmic level, since several sequences deliberately draw our attention on fiction (in particular, the one of Michael’s dream).
There are only three actors voicing all the characters in this film. David Thewlis, Michael’s voice, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Lisa’s, and Tom Noonan, who voices everybody else. And this is not distracting or annoying, but intense, as it mirrors Michael’s perception of reality and his profound isolation before meeting Lisa.
Nothing’s conventional in this movie, not even romance. Unexpected and captivating, Michael’s encounter with Lisa provides the possibility to explore human relationships in a new and different way. And it does it thoroughly, with a sex scene that caused Anomalisa to be the first animated Oscar nominee forbidden to under 18.
Despite this is what the majority of the Internet picked up, in Anomalisa, falling in love is portrayed in a vivid, original way. Dialogues follow their own rhythm and they are unpredictable and true to life, as the one that takes place between Michael and Lisa, when Lisa starts singing “Girls just wanna have fun” by Cindy Lauper.
Directors: Charlie Kaufman, Duke Johnson
Writers: Charlie Kaufman
Cast: David Thewlis, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Tom Noonan