Seven long years since his directorial debut Synecdoche, New York, Kaufman returns with a co-directed cinematic oddity that is unlike anything you’ve ever seen. Celebrated writer Michael Stone (Thewlis) travels to a conference and checks into his room at the Hotel Fregoli. ‘Fregoli’, as in the psychiatric syndrome that causes people to believe that everyone else is actually a single person. No wonder, since everyone in Michael’s life has the same monotonous voice (courtesy of Tom Noonan): his wife, his son, the hotel staff… Everyone except Lisa (Leigh). Her voice is different. Could this stranger be the anomaly that saves him from his dull, existential malaise? Filmed in stop-motion animation, Anomalisa is ambitious in both concept and execution. The filmmakers blend realism with the surreal to disorientating effect, managing to capture the essence of their protagonist’s question, “What is it to ache?”… with puppets. Imagine Lost in Translation meets Thunderbirds. It is not only a technical accomplishment, but also an unexpectedly touching and often funny exploration of what it is to be human and connect with others. One warning: contains puppet cunnilingus.
Anomalisa | Directed by Charlie Kaufman, Duke Johnson (USA 2015) with David Thewlis, Jennifer Jason Leigh. Starts January 21.
Originally published in issue #145, January 2015.