“Look for what is special about each individual, focus on that.”
Directed by: Duke Johnson, Charlie Kaufman
Starring: David Thewlis, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Tom Noonan
Synopsis: Customer service guru Michael (David Thewlis) is a lonely man on the lookout for true love, for that special someone as unique as he perceives himself to be. Lisa (Jennifer Jason Leigh) might just be that person he’s looking for.
Through the eyes of Michael Stone, everyone is the same. His wife, his son, and the taxi driver – they look and sound identical to each other. Literally. He is part of a world brought to life through impressively realistic stop motion puppetry. Tom Noonan voices all bar one of the characters surrounding Michael, with their designs uncannily mirroring one another.
He’s looking for that one person in life who’s different than the rest. And yet a major flaw in his being means that even when he does find that special someone, it’ll never be perfect. He had love and let it go. He made a family for himself, and yet still it’s not enough. Then he finds Lisa, a sweet woman with her own voice and individuality. An anomaly. But still he finds that what he wants is more complex than even he can comprehend. And in the end he himself proves to be more complex than he might appear initially. He’s selfish and foolish, but most of all he’s human.
It’s a self-contained, low-key script from writer/director Charlie Kaufman, but one that is startlingly, beautifully layered. Whilst the appearance of the puppets is key to the storytelling, there’s also wit to be found in their lifelessness, a physicality, as well as a real humanity in the way they’re written. Anomalisa is funny yet thought provoking, surreal, full of wonderful contradictions, and above all else is brutally honest.
Rating (out of 5):