Charlie Kaufman's first foray into stop-motion animation is a typically existential and deeply moving affair

Film Review by Ben Nicholson | 22 Feb 2016
Film title: Anomalisa
Director: Charlie Kaufman, Duke Johnson
Starring: David Thewlis, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Tom Noonan
Release date: 11 Mar
Certificate: 15

Over the course of Charlie Kaufman's cinematic career, he's been fascinated with the complexities of the human mind and the vehicles – whether they be flesh or not – that carry them around. His new film (co-directed with Duke Johnson) is a typically existential, but deeply affecting, foray into a world populated by stop-motion puppets who all share the same eerie expression and Tom Noonan’s monotone voice. That is save for the protagonist Michael (Thewlis), who struggles through this homogenised world until he hears another voice standing out from the drone (Jason Leigh as the eponymous Lisa).

Brimming with wit, Kaufman and Johnson craft a tender and moving account of a man struggling with depression and crying out for any kind of connection. The animated puppets are wonderfully lifelike (reminiscent of Being John Malkovich's stringed lovers) and conjure an uncanny sense of isolation and the joy of a bright spark in the darkness. Perhaps not as mind-bending as it might have been, Anomalisa is possibly more accessible for it – and certainly all the more profound.

Anomalisa closes the Glasgow Film Festival on 28 Feb and is released UK-wide 11 Mar by Curzon

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