"Anomalisa" stars David Thewlis, Jennifer Jason Leigh, and Tom Noonan. Released on December 30, 2015, the film is about an author who perceives everyone as identical until he meets a unique woman at the hotel.
The film is directed by Duke Johnson and Charlie Kaufman, who also directed Synecdoche, New York. It is based on the 2005 play of the same name by Kaufman. Animation can be used in different ways. It can be used as a source of entertainment to delight little kids and their families or as an art form to express the film's storytelling, characters, and themes. That's where this unique film comes into play. Rarely we've seen animated films that are aimed towards adults, like 'South Park: Bigger, Longer, and Uncut' for example, but we haven't seen an animated film that's filled with human drama. This film is one of the nominees for Best Animated Feature at this year's Oscars, competing with other films like Boy & the World, When Marnie Was There, and, my personal favorite to win, Inside Out. But the question is, does it really stand a chance against them?
The film offers only three actors to voice the characters. One of the characters is Michael Stone (voiced by Thewlis), a self-help author who travels to Cincinnati, Ohio to promote his new book about costumer service. The problem with him is that he's socially awkward and he always distances himself away from everyone, including his wife and son. The reason is that they all look and sound identical. That is until he meets a young woman named Lisa (voiced by Jennifer Jason Leigh). At first, having one actor (Noonan) voice everyone in the movie besides Michael and Lisa does seem a bit…off-putting, especially for other female characters. But as the film goes on, I can fully understand why. I think it's a way of showing that Michael sees everyone as the same person. With Lisa, he sees her as a person who is different than everyone else. That's basically what I thought based on what I saw. The animation was absolutely incredible from start to finish. Like I said before, animation can be used to express the film's storytelling, characters, and its themes. It brilliantly captures the emotion and the reality of these characters. It's pretty rare to see an animated film that acts and feels like a live-action independent film.
Of course, it's not a perfect animated film. The story was pretty simple and quite short, like 90 minutes. The first act does seem to drag a little bit, but the rest of the film does seem to pick up a little bit afterwards.
Overall, with its brilliantly crafted animation, great voice work, and its use of adult themes, "Anomalisa" is an animated gem that works as an art form and as a piece of independent cinema. I would love to see more animated films like this, but as of now, this will have to do. If you're a fan of indie films or a fan of animation in general, I would highly recommend it to you if it's playing at a theatre near you.