In Theatres: 
Jan 15, 2016
Running Time: 
90 minutes

At first glance Anomalisa may look like your standard stop-motion animated film, but once you understand it’s from Charlie Kaufman, the writer behind Being John Malkovich, Adaptation, and Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, you realize it’s anything but standard. Despite its puppetry appearance, Anomalisa is a deeply personal film that explores the inner longings of love and romance. It’s unlike anything I’ve seen.


Michael Stone (David Thewlis) is a self-help author who has traveled to Cincinnati on business to deliver a speech on customer service. While there he decides to meet up with an old love of his to determine what went wrong and if things have changed at all. He quickly discovers that it was a bad idea, but he then stumbles by happenstance upon Lisa (Jennifer Jason Leigh), a girl attending his seminar who has the most beautiful voice he has ever heard. They immediately hit it off and while she wonders why someone like him would want to be with someone as plain as her, he wants to make sure to do anything so he doesn’t lose her.


What sets Anomalisa apart from your typical romance story is that every aside from Michael and Lisa is voiced by Tom Noonan. The men, the women, the kids; they all have the same exact voice. To him, everyone is the same, boring person. It’s why he has to double check he’s talking to his ex Bella when he calls her because she sounds just like everyone else, and he can’t distinguish her voice from another. It’s all Michael ever hears, so when he hears Lisa for the first time he is immediately drawn to her. She’s an anomaly in a world of monotony, hence the title.


The animation is absolutely beautiful. The puppets used are intricately detailed to provide a wide range of emotions and facial expressions. It’s not uncommon to forget that what you’re seeing is stop-motion or even animation because it looks so fluid and natural.


That being said, don’t think that because Anomalisa is animation that it’s for kids. It’s not. There’s a reason it’s rated R. Mature language is frequently used and there’s nudity as well as an explicit sex scene. It’s all very fitting of the film, however.


Anomalisa is a brilliant work of art, both in story and animation. It wonderfully captures the inner workings of the mind and reflects them in a manner that is funny, awkward, loving, and sometimes disturbing. It’s complex and not afraid to take chances. Anomalisa is one of those films that warrants repeat viewings because you’ll notice something new each time. It’s a film that can’t be missed.

Matt Rodriguez
Review by Matt Rodriguez
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