Kyle J. Steenblik

Anomalisa is Strangely Beautiful and Subtlly Brilliant

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Directed by: Charlie Kaufman, Duke Johnson
Screenplay by: Charlie Kaufman
Based on Anomalisa by Charlie Kaufman
Starring: David Thewlis, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Tom Noonan
Running time 90 minutes
Rated R for strong sexual content, graphic nudity and language

4 1/2 stars out of 5Michael Stone, husband, father and respected author of “How May I Help You Help Them?” is a man crippled by the mundanity of his life. On a business trip to Cincinnati, where he’s scheduled to speak at a convention of customer service professionals, he checks into the Fregoli Hotel. There, he is amazed to discover a possible escape from his desperation in the form of an unassuming Akron baked goods sales rep, Lisa, who may or may not be the love of his life. A beautifully tender and absurdly humorous dreamscape, from the brilliant minds of Charlie Kaufman and Duke Johnson, this stop-motion animation wonder features the vocal cast of Jennifer Jason Leigh, Tom Noonan and David Thewlis and a stirring strings-based score by Carter Burwell. The darkly comedic and surreal stop-motion journey of a man’s long night of the soul, ANOMALISA confirms Charlie Kaufman’s place amongst the most important of American filmmakers, and announces Duke Johnson as a major creative force. – courtesy Paramount Pictures

Anomalisa may be one of the most brilliantly beautiful and unbelievably bizarre films I have ever seen.  I have seen a lot of beautiful, brilliant, and bizarre films, but so very rarely to those three qualities meet.  The uniqueness of this film was palpable with the audience in the theatre, many clearly loved the film, some could clearly not decide, and a few I would suspect hated it, although I did not hear of any in this screening.  It is not a film that will appeal to everyone, much like Charlie Kaufman’s other films Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, and Being John Malkovich, Anomalisa is likely to cause strong rifts in long standing friendships should one admit to “not getting it”.  Even I, clever as I am, am not entirely sure I understood it, I like to think I did, but also I like that I am unsure, I think the audience is meant to feel a little unsure, leaving us in a similar state to Michael Stone who is unsure about life, and himself.

I do not want to over analyze the film out loud that is something I feel best left to the individual audience members.  Neither do I want to give away too many details, while there is no surprise or twist ending to spoil, there are methodical developments, and very clever devices used that if unspoiled make for a much more impactful first viewing.

At this point, I would, like to conclude by saying damn you Charlie Kaufman and Duke Johnson for creating something that has lodged itself in my mind like an itch you are just going to have to learn to live with.

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