OTTAWA’S CINEMA FOR INTERNATIONAL AND INDEPENDENT MOVIES

Anomalisa

Winner - Grand Jury Prize - 72nd Venice International Film Festival

Charlie Kaufman (Adaptation, Being John Malkovich and Eternal Sunshine Of The Spotless Mind) delivers another masterpiece with this stop-motion animated puppetry tale about a lonely motivational speaker.

Poster art for AnomalisaLike all of Kaufman’s films, which tend to play like Woody Allen movies on hallucinogens, Anomalisa gives us a man in crisis. Michael (voiced by David Thewlis) arrives in Cincinnati to give a speech at a conference of customer-service workers.  Not surprisingly for a Kaufman film, we soon leave reality behind and enter the world of Michael’s mind. Or at least we experience a mix of those two that’s impossible to unpick. Michael has a nightmarish drink at the bar with his troubled ex, Bella. He drinks. He wonders if he’s cracking up. He wanders into a sex shop. Back at the hotel, he strikes up a rapport with a pair of women and spends the night with shy, adoring Lisa (voiced by Jennifer Jason Leigh). It’s a blissful island in a sea of troubles, leading to a sex scene so astonishingly truthful that maybe only puppets could perform it?

Kaufman and co-director Duke Johnson quietly probe the big subjects: happiness, disappointment, love, living with other people, and mentally hanging on to everyday life by its threads. Soaringly romantic and truly moving, it’s what you imagine might have happened if Kaufman had got his hands on Up In The Air or Lost In Translation.

– Dave Calhoun, Time Out London

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