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Anomalisa

Oscar Nominee: Best Animated Feature. "Need proof that animation can not only equal live-action filmmaking but beat the flesh-and-blood version at its own game? Try Anomalisa, as haunting and hypnotic an R-rated love story for grownups as you'll see anywhere." - Rolling Stone

“Charlie Kaufman, the mind behind “Being John Malkovich” and “Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind,” possesses an artistic sensibility unlike any other filmmaker working today. That sensibility informs every word and frame of “Anomalisa,” which received an Oscar nomination for best animated feature.

“Its characters are stop-motion animated puppets, eerily lifelike in appearance, yet just a little robotic in their movements. With a single exception, everyone that the main character — a sad-sack motivational speaker named Michael Stone — encounters sounds exactly like everyone else.

“Michael, an ordinary guy who feels stifled by the humdrum reality of his daily existence, is voiced by British actor David Thewlis. Almost everyone else is voiced by Tom Noonan. The exception is a woman named Lisa, who speaks with the voice of Jennifer Jason Leigh and therefore stands apart from the barely differentiated mass of humanity that engulfs Michael. That makes her a beacon of hope to him. In the midst of sameness, there is difference. In the midst of loneliness — and the essence of Michael’s character is the profundity of his loneliness — there is the possibility of a soul mate.

“What’s going on in “Anomalisa”? The clue as to what might be ailing Michael is in the name of the place where the picture is set: the Fregoli Hotel. The name comes from the Fregoli delusion, which, according to WebMD, is defined as a rare disorder in which a person holds a delusional belief that many different people are actually one person.

“The hotel is rendered with amazing fidelity. We’ve all stayed in such places: clean, sterile, impersonal, the metaphorical equivalent of Michael’s life. Thewlis voices Michael with weariness and despair until the character encounters Lisa. Leigh mixes eagerness and an abashed vocal quality that emphasizes her character’s vulnerability. Lisa is ordinary, yet oddly unique. The bond between them evolves into a startlingly erotic (especially for stop-motion puppets) sexual encounter. It’s strange — they’re puppets! — but oddly affecting. And symbolic of the essence of Anomalisa.”

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