Magazine article The Spectator

Cinema: Anomalisa

Magazine article The Spectator

Cinema: Anomalisa

Article excerpt

Anomalisa is an animated film written by Charlie Kaufman, and while the temptation is to label it a midlife crisis movie, because labels make life so much easier, it is not that clear-cut, just as it never is with Kaufman, who has always refused to explain himself. (Asked what his films are about, his stock response is: 'It's about an hour and half.') I can only say the more you think about this after the event -- and you will think about it constantly, as it sets up a sort of thrum under your skin -- the more truth and sadness and humanity you will see in it. And it's all been achieved with stop-motion animation of the kind that CGI was meant to kill off, but thankfully didn't. It's the same technique as used for Wallace and Gromit , although in that instance there were never any scenes featuring one puppet going down on another in a hotel room, as far as I can remember (and you'd think I would).

Directed by Kaufman (who wrote Being John Malkovich and Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind and directed Synecdoche, New York , all of which are 'about an hour and a half') and Duke Johnson, who specialises in stop motion, our protagonist is Michael Stone (as voiced by David Thewlis). Stone is a British customer-services expert who lives in LA and is flying to Cincinnati for a conference. Michael is a puppet, and at first you will simply marvel at this. You will marvel not just at the detail, or how his skin looks exactly like skin, but how, in being a representation, and knowing he's a representation -- he even sports a visible seam, showing where the parts of the puppet face fit together -- he seems more real than if he weren't. I'm not sure why this is. Because we are looking that much harder? Because we are noting every sigh, every gesture, every expression, and registering the remarkable human-ness of it? We certainly understand, just from the weight of his being, that Michael is weary, lonely, suffers from chronic ennui. And we share his fatigue when faced with the banalities and minor miseries of everyday life: the taxi driver who won't stop talking, the hotel key card that won't work and won't work and then suddenly does. It wasn't, in fact, until Michael arrived at this hotel that I realised that everyone he encounters looks the same and has the same voice (Tom Noonan's). …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.