Anomalisa Review
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For some reason, animation has become an art form thatís reserved almost entirely for kidsówith only the occasional gutsy filmmaker taking a step into more grown-up territory. But with Anomalisa, directors Charlie Kaufman and Duke Johnson use stop-motion animation to create a film thatís smart and thoughtful and definitely not for young viewers.

Anomalisa tells the story of Michael Stone (voiced by David Thewlis), a customer service specialist whoís staying in Cincinnatiís Fregoli Hotel while heís in town to speak at a conference. Distant and detached from the world around him, Michael never connects with other peopleóbecause, to him, they all look and sound the same. But then he meets Lisa (Jennifer Jason Leigh), who looks and sounds unlike anyone elseóand he begins to hope that sheíll be able to change his dull, meaningless life.

  
 
Anomalisa is definitely a different kind of animated film. It isnít flashy and colorful, with a cast of silly talking animals. Instead, itís a grown-up story, with grown-up characters in some very grown-up situations. In fact, it sometimes seems that the film tries to be extra grown-up, just to push the animation boundaries.

This is one movie, however, that requires a little bit of homework. If you go into the film without knowing anything about it, youíll most likely be confused and perplexedóand youíll probably miss the point. So itís good to know that the hotel where the film takes place gets its name from a disorder that loosely connects to the main character (in which a person believes that various people are the same person in different disguises). Also, there are just three voice actors in the film: David Thewlis, Jennifer Jason Leigh, and Tom Noonan, who voices everyone else.

The animation style may take some getting used to, but thatís also what makes the film irresistibly eccentric. Itís quirky and clever, and it makes some amusing observations about everyday life. But itís also surprisingly profound, offering some fascinating commentary on relationships, love, and the way in which we see ourselves and other people. Though it may seem strange and gimmicky and maybe even a little self-important, there comes a moment when it all makes senseówhen the message comes through loud and clear. And even if you donít really appreciate the filmís various oddities, that moment of realization makes it all worthwhile.

Anomalisa is about as far from a mainstream, family-friendly animated movie as you can getóand, of course, thatís part of the filmís appeal. Itís definitely a strange film, but itís also sharp and perceptive and challenging.


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