Take a Drink: for every reference to Cincinnati chilli or the Cincinnati Zoo.
Take a Drink: every time Michael Stone drinks.
Take a Drink: when puppet cunnilingus happens.
Down a Shot: when a Cyndi Lauper song gets sung.
By: Mitch Hansch (A Toast) –
Seen At the Twin Cities Film Festival
You’re by yourself, and the sadder thoughts invade your mind. Insecurities begin to take over as you grapple the very concept of life, and explore the issues that are impeding you from happiness. You can’t reign in the scope of the quandary you know has been tackled by everyone at some point, and you surely can’t put your feelings into coherent words. Well, Charlie Kaufman can, and time and time again those words have been put into mind f’ng masterpieces, creatively allowing us to be apart of his universal depression. Being John Malkovich, Adaptation, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, Synecdoche, NY, and now Kaufman adds to that impressive list Anomalisa.
The film is simplistic in concept, yet Kaufman drains his usual weighted self-loathing complexity at every turn. Done in marionette stop-animation, allowing the film to show his more realistic non-conformed body type (aka chubby), Michael Stone (voiced by David Thewlis) has arrived in Cincinnati for the night so that he can give his usual motivational speech from his customer self-help book titled, How May I Help You Help Them. Michael is having an existential breakdown; rejecting himself but unable to be moved by anyone he comes across. Everyone else he comes by sounds the same to him, literally, as every other character in this film is voiced by actor Tom Noonan. Whether it be a cabbie talking up Cincinnati’s Zoo, or the bellboy hinting at a tip, or an ex-girlfriend of Michael’s that stops by his hotel for a drink, Michael can only hear that one voice and it’s driving him mad.
That is until he meets Lisa (voiced by Jennifer Jason Leigh). Frumpy with a scar on her face that has stunted her eye contact with others, Michael can hear her voice and from it he feels reborn. He begs her to sing, and she gives in with some Cyndi Lauper that is both funny and touching at the same time.
Kaufman has crafted yet another heartbreaking look at the human psyche that is also achingly hilarious. If you’re wondering what a phenomenal low-key introspective gem looks like than buy a ticket to Anomalisa.