Rated: R for strong sexual content, graphic nudity and language. Reviewed by: Jim Release date: December 30, 2015 Released by: Paramount Pictures Corporation
Charlie Kaufman co-directs and writes his first stop-action animated feature (originally intended as a short feature) about a lonely motivational speaker on a business trip. Another low-budgeter (reportedly under ten million) funded in part by the Kickstarter Campaign (as in the Kristen Bell vehicle, Veronica Mars, e.g.).
An oddly intoxicating Anomalisa features the voices of David Thewlis, Jennifer Jason Leigh and Tom Noonan and has a hallucinatory fascination to it like others in his scenarist oeuvre - Being John Malkovich and Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind to name two.
The intriguing puppetry in motion is staged with melancholic romanticism by co-director Duke Johnson who need six months to film an intimate scene (perhaps an impressionistic variant on what was pulled off in an audacious Team America: World Police) to make it so real. In ways which only the inanimate marionette form could make this reverie resonate in remarkable sub-dermal textures in a covalent bond to alternate reality.
A cinematic fluidity into perhaps mid-life crisis reaches family-oriented Thewlis's Michael Stone in Cincinnati to talk in front of customer-service employees at a conference checking into the Fregoli hotel. Kaufman smoothly invites us into Stone's mind and mundane milieu as he gets settled, ordering room service and touching base with the missus and his child.
It isn't a fun drink of a reunion with an insecure past flame, Bella, whom he impetuously contacts before landing in a ribald place a little out of sorts to say the least. Then, back at the hotel he'll step out of his normalcy with a couple of ladies attending his conference and finally spending the night with quiet, cherished Lisa (Leigh, also in the new bloated, closeted if twisty and pungently incendiary Quentin Tarantino acerbic western The Hateful Eight) leading to an aforementioned startling sequence. Noonan adeptly serves as the remaining voices in what revolves around the inscrutable vicissitudes of human connection.
The schematic (in its less subterfuge set-up and execution) and motifs may liken closer to Lost in Translation than Kaufman's Spotless or Adaptation considering an unnatural erotic figure as there's less of the serpentine but still much of the splendor as in his earlier moody abstract of a swan-song-like Synecdoche, New York. A vividly strange, nearly seamless experience is on-screen for discerning patrons who may find the wistful wonder of a bright existential emotional journey fancifully up in the air.