SOPHIA GOURLEY, ’19
This week, the Cinestudio will be showing a critically acclaimed Academy Award Nominee. Charlie Kaufman’s Anomalisa is a stop-motion animated film that tells the story of an English businessman named Michael Stone. The movie opens with Michael on a plane on his way to Cincinnati to give a lecture about his book, “How May I Help You Help Them,” which is about customer service. Right away it is obvious that he has a mundane outlook on life, and has a very pessimistic attitude. This is ironic given his success with interacting with people through his career. That is, until he encounters a shy but intriguing woman named Lisa in his hotel, who is in town for Michael’s lecture. Lisa serves as a ray of light in his dark world, and is completely mesmerizing to him.
Tom Noonan is the voice behind all characters in the movie with the exception of Lisa and Michael, regardless of their gender, including his wife, son and past lover. This creates an uninflected sense of boredom in Michael’s world: everyone he interacts with seems to be the same, even those who are supposed to be closest to him. With Jennifer Jason Leigh as the voice of Lisa, the audience can clearly see a contrast in the way Michael perceives her. Not only does her voice emphasize her deviation from the norm, even her style of dress is much brighter than the other characters around her. Lisa herself is such an anomaly to Michael. It is from here that the nickname “Anomalisa” is born, hence the title of the film.
Kaufman is able to beautifully incorporate the themes of change, love, and loneliness in this relatively short, stop-motion animated film to create something really powerful and admired by audiences and critics everywhere. One of the most relevant reviews to describe the true essence of this film was written by Matt Patches of Esquire:
“[Michael’s] a guy anyone could easily become…Anomalisa is the most human film of the year. And it doesn’t star a single human.”
The usage of stop motion animation creates a very interesting and artistic visual. Anomalisa includes over 118,089 frames of film and took three years to make. However, the use of these 3D printer generated puppets certainly does not detract from the realism in the characters. The film is so well done and naturalistic it is easy to forget that the movie is animated at all.
Kaufman’s work has received positive attention throughout his career as a producer and writer. Some of his most notable films include, Being John Malkovich, Adaptation and Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, all of which were nominated for Academy Awards. Anomalisa is the first R-rated movie to have been nominated for an Oscar in the Animated Feature Film Category. It is rare to create such a graphic, yet overall sophisticated work worthy of this type of esteemed recognition. This year, Anomalisa was up against the Brazilian animated film, Boy and the World, Pixar’s Inside Out, Mark Burton and Richard Starzak’s Shaun the Sheep Movie and Studio Ghibli’s When Marnie Was There.
It is no surprise that this movie was being considered for such a prestigious award. Not only did the film receive an 88 on the Metascore and 92% on Rotten Tomatoes after it’s release in December 2015, Anomalisa was also a Golden Globe Nominee for Best Animated Film and a Critics Choice Award Nominee for Best Animated Film. In addition, the film has been on the Top Ten Films of the Year List in the New York Times, the Rolling Stone and The Hollywood Reporter.
The film’s commentary on the human condition makes Anomalisa a must-see. For all those interested in seeing this thought-provoking masterpiece, Anomalisa will begin playing this week at Trinity’s Cinestudio on Wednesday Mar. 2, and will be running until Saturday Mar. 5th.