Why Charlie Kaufman’s Anomalisa is the film to watch this year
It’s no hyperbole to say that Charlie Kaufman is possibly the finest, certainly the most creative, writer of his generation. Since his dazzling, Oscar-nominated breakthrough Being John Malkovich, he’s made a name for himself as someone unafraid to tackle the bigger problems in life through inventive, original scenarios. Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind tackled love and rejection through Phillip K. Dick-style memory wiping technology. Adaptation. covered writer’s block and self-doubt through a hilariously meta story about the writing process. Even more meta and complex was Synecdoche, New York, his 2008 directorial debut which covered just about everything from birth to death. Now, after seven long years, Kaufman is back with his second directorial feature, Anomalisa, and it sounds incredible.
The stop motion tale of a travelling motivational speaker (voiced by British favourite David Thewlis) so bored by life he hears everyone but a mysterious fan (Jennifer Jason Leigh) in the drawling tones of Tom Noonan, Anomalisa has so far received nothing but praise, suggesting a return to form after so long away. The Times called it “as achingly funny as it is deeply sad”, while The Guardian summed it up with “Love an anomaly. We’re lucky such art as this is not”.
Animation is an entirely new medium for Kaufman, but his ambitious, creative ideas, often too bold and expensive for live action (the film is low budget and funded through Kickstarter, meaning there’s no chance for studio interference), should suit stop motion down to the ground. Currently touring the festival circuit, Anomalisa is scheduled for release in December. Make a note in your diaries, because you don’t want to miss this.
By Harry Ford