With Anamolisa, Charlie Kaufman may well have made the best film of the year about human relationships, with the curious anomaly that it does not actually contain any humans. Puppets made with 3D printers bring to life a surreal and insightful portrait of mid-life crises and melancholy.
David Thewlis voices a customer service celebrity in Cincinnati, touring as part of the launch for his book. The irony of a Lancashire lad schooling the excited and sales obsessed masses with dour tones and not the merest hint of enthusiasm sets the comedy bar high from the off.
The film is perhaps more of a drama that tries to get to the heart of how people view relationships and love. Should we get behind this sad, misunderstood, aging man, fumbling his way through life? Or should we actually despair at his mistreatment and seeming disregard for the women he meets? The film urges viewers to question whether his illusory dreams and internal paranoia are a sign of a deeply troubled man or just everyday narcissism and ego biting at his heels.
The voicing of the puppets is incredible, and almost plays out like a twist. There is so much originality and pathos for the characters in this film, that each and every scene is joyous. When a woman he meets sings an acapella version of Cyndi Lauper’s ‘Girls Just Want to Have Fun’, the scene seems to sway from mockingly humorous to heartbreakingly endearing.
Everyone wears their fragility on their sleeves and the setting in the corridors of a non-descript upmarket hotel seems to drive home a staleness and contempt Kaufmann has for shallow commercialism. Anomalisa is, undoubtedly, a must watch for its portrayal of flawed human interactions and ideas of love.
By Duncan Hall