Anomalisa

With The Voices Of: David Thewlis, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Tom Noonan
Directed By: Duke Johnson and Charlie Kaufman

What an incredibly original work. I’m all for “animation” being used for things other than “to entertain children”, and Anomalisa does just that. It really explores a completely different purpose of animation, and becomes something else entirely. Human. Real.

Minimalistic animation seems contradictory, but it also really does apply to Anomalisa. There are only three voice actors. Our protagonist (Thewlis), everyone else (Noonan), and that one very special girl, Lisa (Leigh), or as we lovingly come to call her Anomalisa. See, by having one person voice every other role (female or male), we come to see Lisa even more as someone special. She’s the first character, other than the protagonist, who doesn’t sound like Tom Noonan. It’s like watching The Matrix, if The Matrix were about being incredibly lonely in the world, and finally finding someone special. See, this is indie animation. It’s like Before Sunrise, but… animated.

The last film Kaufman directed was the awful Synecdoche, New York, which I absolutely hated. Here, he uses Duke Johnson to reign in his crazy, and make Anomalisa a really remarkable story about being incredibly human. We all want to be loved. We all just want to connect with one person. That’s what this is about. It’s a romantic, indie animated film. It is one of the most original things you could possibly see this year, however it also feels so incredibly familiar. It’s a story you’ve seen before, but told in such a radically different way that it feels new again.

Everything from the writing to the directing is perfect. It’s also really short, so it doesn’t give itself any room to feel “laggy” or allow me to say “it has pacing issues”. I don’t think it does. I think it expertly uses every ounce of screentime, and created something truly remarkable.

I somehow still love Inside Out a bit more, but this is also a terrific animated entry this year.

FINAL GRADE: A

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