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Rated 3.1 stars
by 269 people

ReelTalk Movie Reviews
Frontiers Reimagined
by Richard Jack Smith

A stop-motion triumph, Charlie Kaufman’s Anomalisa explores loneliness inside a bustling universe. Co-directed by Duke Johnson, their film reveals how individuality runs counter to conformity.

Prior to delivering an important speech on customer service, Michael Stone (voiced by David Thewlis) indulges in an extra-marital affair with Lisa (voiced by Jennifer Jason Leigh).

Conversations between Michael and various characters including the cab driver underscore a fascinating conceit. Nearly everyone except for Michael and Lisa sounds like Tom Noonan (Manhunter). Ordinarily, this would be a device, casting one actor to embody multiple speaking parts. Yet this idea carries important layers of information.

Commendably, Anomalisa rarely feels confined or self-referential. While Synecdoche New York seemed inaccessible to me, Anomalisa contributes humour and variety. The depth to Kaufman’s writing feels both seminal and indefatigable. In microcosm, the smallest look, compliment and dismissive gesture sends shockwaves through a conversation. Ever felt such difficulties in the everyday? I have. Therefore, Anomalisa pinpoints human interaction as a fragile exercise.

However, the true genius here lies in clarity. It’s rare – darn near unheard of – for animation to tap universal, mundane truths. Beyond colour, line and puppetry a whole universe awaits. As such, Kaufman and Johnson take more than a few steps in the right direction. (Capsule review.)

(Released by Paramount Animation and rated "R" for strong sexual content, graphic nudity and language.)

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