February 13, 2016 by islandersvoice1
By Molly Hogan, San Juan Island
I’m really not a big fan of animated films, but I found the trailer for Anomalisa intriguing. So one Sunday afternoon, I watched it at the Pickford in Bellingham. I am a big fan of Charlie Kaufman, who wrote Being John Malkovich, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind and Adaptation. He collaborated with Duke Johnson to create this stop-motion animated feature film for adults. Please don’t bring the children.
The story is quite simple; a man named Michael Stone (voiced by David Thewlis) is flying to Cincinnati for one day only to speak at a customer service seminar. We follow Michael as he takes a taxi from the airport and checks into his hotel. Once he gets to his room, he calls his wife at home to let her know he has arrived safely. By now, we are aware that everyone (the cabbie, the front desk clerk, the bell hop, even his wife and son) all have the same voice (Tom Noonan).
Michael seems to be less than satisfied with his life, looking for something outside of himself to give meaning to his drab existence. A potential hook-up with an old girl friend in the hotel bar doesn’t go so well. Back in his room,, he hears a new voice belonging to a woman named Lisa (voiced by Jennifer Jason Leigh). She is an anomaly -his “anomalisa”- offering Michael what he sees as a chance for redemption; a chance to escape the life he seems to hate.
Stop-motion animation is quite tedious to make; one day of filming produces 2 seconds of footage. I found this labor of love to be quite visually appealing and at 90 minutes, not too long. The story line was interesting enough to keep me engaged and gave me something to chew on for a while. I like that in a film. I hope to see it again when it comes to the Palace Theatre. I think a second viewing might help me to make more sense of it.
Anomalisa is nominated for Best Animated Film Academy Award this year and has already won the Golden Globe and several other awards. It hasn’t had a huge audience, but if you get a chance, do see it.