Writer/director Kaufman at his best (Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, Being John Malkovich) or even at his weakest (Synecdoche, New York, Adaptation) is always thought provoking and fascinating to experience. Anomalisa is definitely toward the better end of that scale: funny, in a dark way; sweet, in a sad way; encouraging, in a bizarre way.
Intense and unblinking, the massively honored Anomalisa will drag you along inexorably and willingly. Sure, you’ll flinch. It is intimate but somehow also clinical due to the nature of the presentation and production choices. It takes its time with the story it wants to tell. There are no quick cuts or having the lens avert its eyes. It presents to you Michael’s story, voiced by David Thewlis (Macbeth), with honesty and care.
Within Michael’s world are two other voices. Jennifer Jason Leigh (Welcome to Me), who creates a wonderfully naive and lonely young woman and works well with Thewlis. And then there is, quite literally, everyone else, voiced by Tom Noonan (12 Monkeys). This piece is adapted from what was originally a live radio play (at its core, if not literally). These three actors were called back together to bring Anomalisa to life, and they succeed.
The world is immersive and, from a production point of view, an astounding piece of art and animation. It honestly should have won the Oscar, but the content likely killed its chances. Make no mistake, this is stop-action animation for adults, in every sense; the story and the visuals. But it is worth every minute you spend in the world and it should be seen, even if through fingers at times when you cringe in sweet embarrassment. It is a terrible beauty of a film that will make your heart swell.