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ANOMALISA by Charlie Kaufman is a tender stop motion animation for adults about a successful author and motivational trainer who is so depressed that all voices sound the same to him. Then one day he hears a voice that is different: it belongs to a ...


ANOMALISA is Charlie Kaufman’s second directorial feature, although he has long been famous for his signature absurdist, neurosis-laden brand of dark comedy. Kaufman wrote the screenplays for such cult classics as BEING JOHN MALKOVICH, ADAPTATION, and ETERNAL SUNSHINE OF THE SPOTLESS MIND, though his directorial debut, the labyrinthine and multilayered meditation on ambition, loneliness, and dissociation, SYNECHDOCHE, NEW YORK, received less attention. ANOMALISA fits well within this canon, but also distinguishes itself with deft, often unnerving stop-motion animation, which, like his meta-fictional filmmaking, reveals the seams of its creation. Like his debut, ANOMALISA delves into alienation with a surreal bent, and also features actor Tom Noonan, who performed as Philip Seymour Hoffman’s peeping tom and theatrical understudy in SYNECHDOCHE. In ANOMALISA, Noonan shines from the shadows again, and showcases his versatility as the voice behind nearly every character in the film, children and women included, with the exception of the film’s protagonists. Michael Stone, a depressed celebrity in the field of customer service motivational speaking (voiced by David Thewlis) meets Lisa, a shy and self-deprecating young devotee of Stone’s teachings (voiced with masterfully sincere naivety by Jennifer Jason Leigh), who has traveled to a hotel in Cincinnati to see Stone give a speech. Kaufman turns the second-rate city of Cincinnati into a running joke in the film—like the people surrounding Michael, it is another fraudulent, washed-out façade, failing to convince Stone of its substance. In this hotel, Lisa and Michael have an encounter that remains intimate despite its awkwardness, and feels deeply human, despite its alien circumstances and the puppets performing the actions. Michael becomes desperately infatuated with Lisa, and clings doggedly to his recognition of something different in her, in the midst of so much white noise and monotony. Lisa offers Michael solace from his claustrophobic universe in what becomes a poignant and suspenseful journey. We crave his release and redemption as much as he does, but we must slowly come to terms with its precarity within the complex language of delusions at the foundation of Charlie Kaufman’s filmic worlds.

Sara Neidorf


USA 2015, 90 min
Genre: Animation, Comedy
Director: Charlie Kaufman, Duke Johnson
Author: Charlie Kaufman
DOP: Joe Passarelli
Montage: Garret Elkins
Music: Carter Burwell
Distributor: Paramount Pictures Germany
Cast: David Thewlis, Jennifer Jason Leigh
FSK: 12
Release: 21.01.2016




  • OV Original version
  • OmU Original with German subtitles
  • OmeU Original with English subtitles

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