Anomalisa [Blu-ray + DVD + Digital HD] (Bilingual)
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From the Oscar-winner who brought you ETERNAL SUNSHINE OF THE SPOTLESS MIND and BEING JOHN MALKOVICH comes a riveting new masterpiece. Michael Stone – husband, father and noted author – travels to Cincinnati to speak at a customer service conference. But once he’s separated from the routine of his daily life, a chance encounter helps him to realize just what, and whom, he’s been missing. Love, laughter and loneliness align in Charlie Kaufman’s “staggeringly inventive” (Chris Nashawaty, Entertainment Weekly) stop-motion work of art.
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At it's core, the story is about a middle-aged married man who has a one-night affair in a hotel. From a artistic point of view, the filmmakers did a great job - Michael Stone's dissatisfaction with life is cleverly portrayed, making the most of the animation medium. All characters have the same face, and all have the same voice actor, and the viewer slowly understands what Michael must be feeling. It makes Lisa's introduction all the stronger, for she (like Michael) has a unique face and voice, making her a breath of fresh air when we awkwardly meet her halfway through the movie. The level of detail in the sets and sound effects is uncanny - the hotel room looks like every hotel you've seen, and background characters fill the world with life.
The writing is generally sharp, poignant with bits of comedy sprinkled about ("it's zoo-sized" might be one of my new favourite quotes). The movie is mostly grounded in reality, but when it does enter some of the more surreal moments, it becomes all the more exciting.
... but at it's core, the story is about a middle-aged married man who has a one-night affair in a hotel. While this movie shows these internal struggles of the lead character better than any other book or film I know, it still feels disgusting to think about. There is a sex scene, unedited and lengthy, when the female was initially against it and ultimately this element felt unnecessary in an otherwise earnest story or in explaining Michael's state of mind.Read more ›
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
2. The fewer details you know about the story beforehand, the better. It's designed to slowly reveal what's going on, and you'll get the most out of it that way.
3. The basic plot is about a self-help author who is so deeply unhappy with his life that his brain is re-interpreting reality for him. Then he meets an unhappy woman, and the results are... interesting.
4. This is an animated movie, but it's made for adults. There's swearing, nudity, sex, and alcohol.
5. The foundation of the movie is very melancholy, but it's also extremely funny in parts.
6. It's made with stop-motion animation, but it moves much more smoothly than most of those type of films. The puppets were created using 3D printers. The results are fascinating and a little unsettling.
7. Even though it's surreal and trippy, it manages to hit on an essential Truth about life that may not have been able to be explained in any other way.
8. If you need movies with definite events and concrete explanations, then you will want to avoid this movie.
9. This movie is one of those rare specimens that you understand deep inside yourself, but you may have trouble finding the words to explain it. It's a remarkable piece of art.
🎭 The stop-motion animation took 3 years to do, and is what sets Anomalisa apart from other movies in recent [past decade] memory. The disquieting realism makes you question how Anomalisa was made; at first I thought it was based on the motions of actors, like A Scanner Darkly, which used live action footage later animated over.
🎭 Most of it takes place at the Hotel Fregoli. The Fregoli delusion is a rare disorder in which a person holds a delusional belief that different people are in fact a single person who changes appearance or is in disguise (Wikipedia). The plot will make more sense knowing this.
🎭 Written and co-directed by Charlie Kaufman, the mind that brought you Being John Malkovich.
🎭 I don't care what people say, there's something creepy about the puppet sex scene here; although not intended to be similar, it's nonetheless a far cry from the humorous puppet sex scene in Team America: World Police. It will surely lead to some negative reviews simply due to its realism. After the scene, Anomalisa becomes surreal once again.
🎭 The heartfelt, cringeworthy speech given by the protagonist towards the end displays every bit as much emotion as you could expect an actor to muster -- but it's a puppet!
🎭 You don't notice the unremarkable in daily life until you watch it: when every character has the same voice, the banality and predictability that hides in plain sight becomes unveiled.
Couple of comments: first and foremost, this is the latest brainchild of Charlie Kaufman (Being John Malkovich; Adaptation; Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, etc.), and to state that he is pretty unique in the movie business would be an understatement. I'll go see anything that this guy comes up with, yes, he is that unique (and that good). Here, he takes yet another direction, spinning a story of a loner, and presenting it in stop-motion fashion. On top of that, other than the two main characters having their own unique voice, all the other characters, both make and female, are voiced by the same person (Tom Noonan). Even though the two settings couldn't be more different (Tokyo vs. Cincinnati), the movie made me think more than once about Sofia Coppola's "Lost In Translation" (including the themes of loneliness and self-doubt). Beware, even though this is stop-motion, there are several scenes with explicit nudity, so if that bothers you... Last but not least, there is a very nice orchestral score for this movie, courtesy of Carter Burwell. And then there is the a-cappela version of Cindy Lauper's "Girls Just Want To Have Fun" by the Lisa character...
The movie opened last weekend at my local art-house theater here in Cincinnati, and I finally had a chance to see it this weekend. The early evening screening where I saw this at was attended okay but not as well as I had expected. Given the multiple Cincinnati references in the film (down to Cincinnati chili), there were quite a few laughs and reactions from the audience during the showing. That aside, if you like Charlie Kaufman and all of the weirdness that entails (in the best possible way), you cannot go wrong with this. "Anomalisa" is HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!
Then there's the plot - somewhat dark, even a bit disturbing. The lead character, a motivational speaker, enters the crisis point of a mid-life crisis, without realizing that's what's happening. In his own fragile state, he seduces a woman even more emotionally fragile than he is. She exits the brief affair reasonably happy, despite his thoroughly questionable behavior towards her.
And yes, there's the sex scene. Different viewers will respond differently to it - despite its realism in many ways, I found that the dolls dampened any eroticism I might have seen, like two manikins posed intimately together. In any case, this is definitely not one for the kiddies.
And, even though the animation bordered on magical, the emotional burden is not one I really enjoyed seeing.
-- wiredweird, reviewing the release to theaters