Thursday, 14 April 2016


I feel still, almost an agitated paralysis just now having finished watching Charlie Kaufman's new film, Anomalisa. It is probably one of the most touching, honest and real films I have seen in a long time and my stillness is one that I welcome, one that is rare, in the same way that Lisa is an anomaly both to herself and to Michael, a customer service specialist and public speaker she meets in a hotel the eve before a conference she is to attend and at which Michael is the speaker.

The stop motion animation as a medium for this particular film reflects its narrative in such a way that it describes the on and off experience of what might otherwise be a mundane or prosaic existence. This flux at times organically and at other moments, almost too mechanically functions to create movement and the illusional or real feeling of time passing, one moment sewed into the next to convince you of the natural continuity of days and nights. It is clear from the outset that Michael, the protagonist, is at a crossroads: he is lost, frustrated with everyone he meets, and is convinced he has psychological problems. He feels impeded by something unknown to him and is utterly unable to find any pleasure in his life, where everything and everyone appears to be the same. About his own life and existence, he is incapable of feeling turned "on".

Curiously, and the audience quickly determines this film narrates a subjective relay of Michael's experience whereby every character has the same male voice, be they his wife, his child, other women he encounters as well as all of the men he speaks to. This is until he meets Lisa, a woman who has been single for eight years, and who's esteem of herself is unusually low, made emblematic by a large scar on the side of her face, the cause of which she chooses not to disclose. Upon meeting Lisa, and after sharing a few drinks with her and her coworker, Michael invites Lisa back to her room. Astonished and deeply moved by her voice, he gets her to sing a song: she chooses Cyndi Lauper's Girls Just Want to Have Fun. Her voice, the only female one in the entire film is instantly beautiful, not for its technical skill or correct tone, but for its very quality of being unremarkable, gorgeously human, and ultimately original. Such a honeymoon is short lived, and after the pair make love and fall asleep together, Lisa's voice begins to morph into that of everyone else and as her brilliance goes dim and murky, Michael's anxiety is again unleashed. He is left unable to cry, contorting his face as best he can; he feels empty, nothing, and fails to recognize his friends.

No comments:

Post a Comment