thu 25/07/2024

DVD: Anomalisa | reviews, news & interviews

DVD: Anomalisa

DVD: Anomalisa

Charlie Kaufman's remarkable animation sheds fresh light on the male midlife crisis

Heart of Stone: Michael and Lisa walk down the corridor of uncertainty in 'Anomalisa'

The midlife crisis, the one-night stand in another city, the younger woman and the honeyed words that turn to dust – they happen all the time, in life and therefore in stories. In Anomalisa they are seen miraculously afresh thanks to Charlie Kaufman, that tireless cinematic frontiersman, and his co-director, animator Duke Johnson.

The novelty of Anomalisa is that stop-motion figurines play out the life of Michael Stone, an inspirational self-help guru who can inspire everyone but himself. As he lands in Cincinnati to give a talk, his marriage has turned to dust, he is tempted by the siren lure of an old relationship he abandoned, and one of the delegates down the corridor of his faceless five-star hotel, a shy woman drained of confidence, is all set to be the next victim of his paralysing inability to build a lasting connection.

Her name is Lisa, but because she counts herself an anomaly, he renames her Anomalisa. Both are movingly voiced – by David Thewlis, his northern English accent introducing an extra level of alienation, and Jennifer Jason Leigh – but a typically Kaufmanesque touch is to have almost all the other characters, male or female, spoken by one actor: the voice of the rest of the world to the weary solipsist.

The counterintuitive masterstroke of Anomalisa is to bring what might seem a tired story to life by replacing actors with animations. As is explained in the underwhelming extras, the task of creating the world of the film on an independent budget was considerable. This DVD release is worth the price of purchase for the film itself, a rare animation aimed, as Kaufman explains, entirely at adults. The sight of Stone towelling himself down in the shower, and going down on Lisa, is not one that can be found among Best Animation contenders at this year's Academy Awards, nor any other.

Read more film reviews on theartsdesk

Overleaf: watch the trailer to Anomalisa

A typically Kaufmanesque touch is to have almost all the other characters, male or female, spoken by one actor


Editor Rating: 
Average: 5 (1 vote)

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