Anomalisa: A Savage Review and Analysis
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Anomalisa: A Savage Review and Analysis

Watch as Charlie Kaufman animates mental complexity and longing

Anomalisa: A Savage Review and Analysis

"Anomalisa", Charlie Kaufman's newest work out of Paramount Animation and Starburns Industries, offers keen insight to the disorders bred from uniform experience. The story revolves around a businessman, Michael Stone, on his trip to Cincinnati for his book tour. Michael, voiced by David Thewlis ("Theory of Everything" & "Harry Potter"), is suffering from extreme levels of similarity in his life. Coincidentally, the fancy hotel he stays at during his trip is called the Fregoli which happens to bear the same name as a mental disorder tied to problems with personal attachment. Michael is also in the business of customer service, ironically. He preaches to "look for what is special in about each individual," but ultimately fails to accomplish this himself. Every other person in this movie is voiced by Tom Noonan to further emphasize the feeling of uniformity and sameness, except for Lisa, the anomaly of this title. She holds a personal connection to Michael for her beautiful voice, delivered by Jennifer Jason Leigh, and difference.

Theories point out that Lisa may not have even existed, that perhaps she was the product of Michael's desperate longing for attachment. There is a key scene in which Michael finds a toy for his materialistically centered son in a sex shop. This Kabuki-esque machine doll is both haunting and uncomforting, like the sex scene between Michael and Lisa, and is brought back to Michael's home covered in semen. Stone's rejection by an ex-lover he met up with, followed by unsettling calls back home leave Michael stranded for adoration. His mental disease is underlined in the most lyrically surreal scenes following Michael and Lisa's one night stand. Michael questions his motives and botches his entire book pitch. Stone arrives back home lost and confused with no resolution, his disorder only worsened.

What Kaufman does best here, with the help of animation director Duke Johnson, is use stop-motion as a means of detailed emphasis. Expounding upon the excellent screenplay, the animation creates frames that are meant to be analyzed at the smallest levels. Whether it be the symbolism behind the characters' detached mandibles or the longing eyes of Michael and Lisa, "Anomalisa" proves itself to be one of the most emotionally human films of 2015 and contends with "Inside Out" as the best animated feature film of the year.

8.8 / 10.0

Further reading:

Here and here.

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This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.
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