When I watched the trailer for this film pre-screening, I glazed over a quote from a movie critic that declared it “The most human movie of the year and it doesn’t star a single human.” It meant little to me before seeing the film, but once I had, the quote really irked me. Not because it’s a lie, but because I didn’t come up with it, and it is so godforesakenly true. I watched an entire film made up of stop-motion puppets with faces that look like masks and not once did I stop to notice that they weren’t actually real actors. Charlie Kaufman, you little devil.
Yes, Charlie Kaufman wrote Anomalisa, meaning the screenplay came from the same brilliant mind as Being John Malkovich, Adaptation and Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind. Are you kidding me? How does one person get to be that good? Charlie Kaufman could answer that question, but if he did, he’d probably pen his reply in hieroglyphics made out of origami swans that look like the Mona Lisa, just because he can.
Anomalisa is a story about one man, a motivational speaker named Michael Stone (voiced by David Thewlis) and his inability to see, hear, or love anyone other than himself. That is until he meets Lisa (voiced by Jennifer Jason Leigh), the anomaly in his life. Get it? Anoma…lisa? The movie’s name is about as literal as anything in the film gets. The rest is a web of intrigue, subtely and depth that requires an inquisitive mind in the viewer and a readiness to reach down into that anguished, over-worked muscle caged by the ribs and give it a good massage.
In the film, Michael Stone bunkers down for a night in a swank-ish Ohio hotel the eve before he is due to deliver a motivational speech at a customer-service rep convention. He is racked by every textbook human fear—loneliness, normality, failure, and boredom. He attempts to reconnect with a lost love that lives in the city, but she fails to ignite his flickering pilot. But when he meets Lisa, an optimistic and spritely young sales rep attending his conference the following day, it’s as if he’s a new felt-covered-puppet-man.
The most important part of the movie goes for maybe 40 seconds, but it will stay with you for 40 years. A couple of apple martini’s down, Lisa agrees to sing an a cappella rendition of Cyndi Lauper’s “Girls Just Want to Have Fun”. Lisa’s cover, delivered at a quarter of the pace as the original, in a shy, monotone fashion, will not only break your heart into a million tiny apple martini glass pieces, it will also make you appreciate the song for the first time in your life.
They just wanna.
They just wanna.
Seriously sends shivers up my spine thinking about it. Go and see this film. It’s clever and funny and sad, and even though it was made on a shoestring budget, it’s ten times more impressive than a pair of new Yeezys.