Anomalisa (2015) ⭐⭐⭐ 1/2

An odd little film about isolation and exhaustion in a hotel. One perfect for rainy, contemplative nights.

 

Directed by Charlie Kaufman

 

“What is it to be human? What is it to ache? What is it to be alive?”

A babble of indistinct voices build up to a deafening roar, before inexplicably fading away in the opening of Anomalisa. This is easily the most bizarre animation i have seen in 2015, a stop motion film with puppets that explores the human condition with unnerving accuracy and wit. Written and directed by Charlie Kaufman no less.

That last sentence alone might already be the deciding factor for some audiences. Whether you find Kaufman’s works to be overly complex, pretentious or flat out brilliant, there is no denying his ambition.

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Anomalisa tells a tale of a middle aged man, Michael, over the course of one night in a hotel as he experiences a mid life crisis. The bulk of the film is simple, as he drinks and attempts to connect with people both old and new. There is absolutely nothing special with the plot of the movie, but there is something quite extraordinary about the execution.

Right from the start you’ll notice something strange. And i’m not talking about the unsettling puppets which happen to be beautifully animated. There is a distinct lack of voice variety throughout the film, almost distractedly so. And without spoiling it, all i can say is that it is a brilliant move, one that expresses individuality and existentialism in such a unique manner, and with such striking clarity that i’m surprised it took so long for anyone to come up with it.

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Having said that, Anomalisa is a slow, surreal and pensive film about being alone in a hotel. So do not go into this expecting the trademark craziness of Adaptation (2002) or Being John Malkovich (1999). Kaufman wisely avoids the overly complex nature of his previous scripts, and the result is easily his most mature work, even if it is territory that has already been well explored in films like Lost In Translation (2001).

Still, Anomalisa is a strange film that is absolutely worth seeing for its willingness to explore the human condition as well as the mundanity of life, along with all its awkward silences and conversations intact.

 

“Our time is limited, we forget that.”

 

 

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