Touching yet comic story told in animation by Anomalisa

Anomalisa at the Curzon cinema in Eastbourne
Anomalisa at the Curzon cinema in Eastbourne

Charlie Kaufman’s film Anomalisa is one of the most highly praised films released this year but also one of the most unusual.

It screens at the Curzon cinema next Wednesday, October 19, as a presentation by the Eastbourne Film Society with seats available for the public.

Kaufman made his name as a writer of quirky movies such as Being John Malkovich and Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind. The title which refers to one of the film’s two central characters is a composite in that her name is Lisa, a woman who thinks of herself, not unhappily, as an anomaly. She rates very low her chances of finding a man who will be attracted to her but then she attends a conference in Cincinnati where the guest speaker is an Englishman who on the face of it lives an untroubled life. In truth he is going through a mid-life crisis and dreams of finding a rewarding love and we wonder if this man, Michael Stone, is destined to transform Lisa’s life when they meet each other.

The storyline here, comic and yet also sad, may not sound so extraordinary, but Kaufman’s film uses no live actors and features instead animated puppets. In the process this decidedly adult work transforms all notions of what cinema can do when utilising animation. Incredible though it sounds, the viewer comes to believe in these people aided by the stunning vocal performances of David Thewlis and Jennifer Jason Leigh.