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  • Writer's pictureJames Rutherford

'Anomalisa': A Uniquely Introspective Animated Depiction of Existential Crisis and Human Fragility

Anomalisa (2015) is a unique and introspective drama about a disenchanted motivational speaker named Michael Stone (David Thewlis) who travels to Cincinnati, Ohio to promote his most recent publication. Delivered in the form of stop-motion animation, the storyline follows Michael's exploits as he becomes entangled with a oddly alluring young woman named Lisa Hesselman (Jennifer Jason Leigh).

Haunted by his failed relationship with an old flame named Bella, Michael arranges to meet with her while visiting Cincinnati—only for their reunion to end discouragingly. Left wandering his hotel, Michael is unexpectedly drawn to the voice of young Lisa—a beguiling convention attendee whose presence and appearance ignite deep, unexpected passions within his heart. It's his subsequent liaison with Lisa that leaves Michael both exhilarated and despondent, disillusioned by his fleeting glimpse of transcendence.

Written and co-directed by Charlie Kaufman (Being John Malkovich, I'm Thinking of Ending Things), Anomalisa is a thought-provoking treatise on mid-life crisis and human egotism. Well-known as a purveyor of surrealistic explorations of identity, Kaufman has delivered what may be his most personal film to date. Employing Thewlis as his animated stand-in, he explores yearning and dismay with a deft hand—painting a one-of-a-kind portrait of human fragility for a discerning modern audience.


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