Friday, February 12, 2016

Anomalisa (2015)

IMDb plot summary: A man crippled by the mundanity of his life experiences something out of the ordinary.
Directed by Duke Johnson and Charlie Kaufman. Starring David Thewlis, Tom Noonan, and Jennifer Jason Leigh.

(Definite spoilers ahead.)

When I heard Charlie Kafuman was doing an animated film I was intrigued and prepared for something delightfully weird. And what I got was... weird, but certainly not Being John Malkovich-level weird. This is more like Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind -- one unusual gimmick to tell a very human story that so creatively integrates with the themes that you almost forget it's unusual by the end.

Here, the primary gimmick is that everyone our main character meets shared the same bland almost-monotone voice (Tom Noonan). Everyone he encounters, from the taxi driver to the hotel concierge to the wife and child he calls on the phone, respond in the same quiet, soothing tones, and it isn't until he meets someone who sounds different (played by non-Tom-Noonan Jennifer Jason Leigh) that he thinks maybe he's found a way out of the drudgery he's lived in.

It's a fascinating movie and a fascinating way to tell the story, and I found it especially relevant as someone who is both extremely introverted and deals with occasional depression, two very different angles for being uninterested in people. There are so many ways you could interpret this story and why Michael hears things the way he does, and the fact that it's never delved into very deeply makes it ambiguous in the best way.

Ultimately, I found myself a little more wrapped up in intellectual analyzing of the gimmicks and themes than I did experiencing the emotional arc of the movie. Kaufman's movies are always interesting but often leave me a little cold emotionally (aside from Synecdoche, New York, which filled me with an almost overwhelming sadness). Here I'm not even sure I tried to respond to the emotional side of it, and I'm not sure how it would hold up, but I admired the movie a lot and would definitely like to rewatch it someday.

4 stars.

How it entered my Flickchart:
Anomalisa > Happythankyoumoreplease
Anomalisa > Argo
Anomalisa < High School Musical
Anomalisa > Kiss Me, Stupid!
Anomalisa < Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind
Anomalisa < The Parent Trap
Anomalisa < Star Wars: The Force Awakens
Anomalisa > The Talented Mr. Ripley
Anomalisa > The Peanuts Movie
Anomalisa > Trainspotting
Anomalisa > The Graduate

Final spot: #437 out of 2430.

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