Swimming in a Sea of You
Anomalisa
Review by Ross Anthony

Well, it's certainly not the uplifting cinematic experience the trailers seem to depict. In fact, Anomolisa is really pretty much of a downer. And for that, I was disappointed. But, that could be a matter of my expectations. Actually, despite being a strong fan of Charlie Kaufman, I left the theater unfulfilled.

However, on further reflection, a more fruitful interpretation of the film occurred to me. So read the last paragraph if you don't mind a spoiler -- or have already screened the film.

But, before that, one has to marvel at this animation - how wonderfully human. Whereas, the storyline is rather thin, quite simple (especially for Kaufman), and takes some time to gather momentum; the visuals provide plenty to wonder at. In fact, I even wondered if I was witnessing true stop motion at all. Perhaps the filmmakers applied some really interesting effects to live action. Or even a mix of the two? Either way -- careful artistic attention results in lovely, magical recreations of human interaction -- in a starkly drab setting - the contrast is pleasantly stirring.

Spoiler: So, at first look, I assumed this was a rather sad story of someone who had descended so far into the depths of his own ego that he'd lost the ability to appreciate the beauty of individuals. This alone, is quite interesting, but not fulfilling in a feature form -- perhaps, a poem, or short, then yes, but for a feature - I want growth. That, of course, is my bias. Anyway, here's my more fruitful interpretation: What makes the film the most curious is Mike Stone's desperate need not only to connect with a human, but to discover/uncover the reason why he had disconnected from humans in the first place. The aching for those two experiences is what connects this film with its audiences. Sadly, for me, when Mike disconnects from Anomolisa, the film disconnects from me. But, upon reflection, I think that we, the audience are given a nugget of wisdom to take home. And that is Mike's second aching -- the need to know WHY he's so alone. In the film, he appears to be oblivious to this, but we, the audience, are allowed to catch the clue. Anomolisa didn't just fade into the sea of human-clones. There were a couple of tiny, not so subtle, incidents that occurred just at the moment. Basically, Mike allowed her imperfections to annoy him, and responded with complete intolerance. This is why he's so alone -- because he simply couldn't integrate annoyances into the euphoria of his fascination. I like this interpretation, but there's a conflict in that he very beautifully had no such problem with her facial scar, or imperfect body shape, or bumbling-ness. Therefore, upon even further reflection, I leave it to you. I certainly appreciate the thought this film provoked in me and am curious as to your interpretation, and invite you to kindly send in your reflections.

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  • Anomalisa. Copyright © 2015.
  • Starring Tom Noonan, Jennifer Jason Leigh, David Thewlis.
  • Directed Charlie Kaufman and Duke Johnson.
  • Screenplay by Charlie Kaufman.

Grade..........................B (2/4)


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Copyright © 1998-2016 Ross Anthony, Author - Speaker - Solo World Circumnavigator In addition to reviewing films and interviewing celebs at HollywoodReportCard.com, traveling the world, composing great music, motivational speaking, Mr. Anthony also runs his own publishing company in the Los Angeles area. While traversing the circumference of the planet writing books and shooting documentaries, Mr. Anthony has taught, presented for, worked &/or played with locals in over 30 countries & 100 cities (Nairobi to Nagasaki). He's bungee-jumped from a bridge near Victoria Falls, wrestled with lions in Zimbabwe, crashed a Vespa off a high mountain road in Taiwan, and ridden a dirt bike across the States (Washington State to Washington DC). To get signed books ("Rodney Appleseed" to "Jinshirou") or schedule Ross to speak check out: www.RossAnthony.com or call 1-800-767-7186. Check out his other sites too: Author*Illustrator*Speaker, Motobookothon 2009, M9, Write Triangle, TwT. Go into the world and inspire the people you meet with your love, kindness, and whatever it is you're really good at. Check out books by Ross Anthony. Rand() functions, Pho chicken soup, rollerblading, and frozen yogurt (w/ blueberries) also rock! (Btw, rand is short for random. It can also stand for "Really Awkward Nutty Dinosaurs" -- which is quite rand, isn't it?) Being alive is the miracle. Special thanks to Ken Kocanda, HAL, Jodie Keszek, Don Haderlein, Mom and Pops, my family, R. Foss, and many others by Ross Anthony. Galati-FE also deserves a shout out. And thanks to all of you for your interest and optimism. Enjoy great films, read stirring novels, grow.


Last Modified: Friday, 05-Feb-2016 10:51:13 PST