The Oscar nominee for Best Animated Film will most likely take home the prize because of the craft, but not necessarily the story.
Charlie Kaufman and Duke Johnson’s is real life, but animated. The film is about Michael, a celebrity in the customer service book world who spends a night at a hotel before a conference the next day and meets a stranger who is compelling to only him.
I had high expectations for this one. The trailer made me tear up the first time I saw it, and the reviews were pretty unanimously positive. Maybe my expectations were unreasonably high, considering I was somewhat disappointed after leaving the theater.
I’ll start with what I wasn’t disappointed in. The craft that went into making this stop-motion film made entirely from miniature models that would be completely real except for the obvious stitching on the side of our character’s faces was unparalleled. With the capabilities of CGI today, this is definitely doing it the hard way and I can’t imagine how much work went into the final product.
The story is what was lacking for me– Michael was just not sympathetic enough of a character for me. I understand that he is not supposed to be likeable, and I did identify with some of his fears, but overall, I didn’t care what happened to him (I have the same qualms with Breaking Bad, though the two couldn’t be more different. BRB, pitching an animated Breaking Bad to major networks, they’re gonna eat it up).
Also, I personally feel like there were either too many elements of surrealism or not enough– everyone having the same voice was such a deliberate choice but it only served to set apart Lisa, and I feel like there could have been another way for that to happen. There’s also a strange scene with the disintegration of Michael’s face. But the rest of the film has a quality of strict realism to it, so these brief moments stick out and don’t really work.
This all being said, Anomalisa is a visually incredible film, though it lacks in narrative consistency or the heart I had hoped for.