Charlie Kaufman is often known for his surrealistic, often introspective films on the mundanity of life. Typically his films involve a male protagonist discovering a bizarre world that is tucked away into his every-day life, and his attempt to escape said life. Anomalisa is no different.
Rich & sucessful businessman, Michael Stone (David Thewlis) senses something is up in his life. From the audience's perspective, everyone who isn't Michael talks/sounds exactly like character actor Tom Noonan. Michael feels shut in, bored with life, until he hears a different voice for the first time since he can remember; enter Lisa, played by the extraordinary Jennifer Jason leigh, who is having quite the year.
With Lisa, Michael begins to explore why he is so unhappy with his life, and what exactly would make Lisa so unique and special that she sounds different from anyone else. Mix in the usual Kaufman/meta humor.
The twist in Kaufman's newest film is that he chose to go the stop animation route. Funded by a campaign on kickstarter, the story totally fits the interesting aesthetic of a straightforward stop motion route. Much like "Fantastic Mr Fox", minus the anthropomorphic animals, the film stays grounded in some form of realism, even when its protagonist tries to break the fourth wall.
The voice performances are great. Thewlis stays mostly morose throughout the picture, and he does it incredibly well. Leigh makes you completely forgot she was ever some outlaw named Daisy Domergue, playing almost the antithesis of that character in Lisa. She's incredibly sweet, shy, awkward, and overall charming. They made for a great couple.
Tom Noonan in his own right was hilarious. Playing a multitude of roles, he excels in making sure each one differentiates from the other. It was a very interesting/Kaufman-type choice to use Noonan for every other roles, and it works to the film's benefit.
The overall issue though is the film's uniqueness in contrast to the rest of Kaufman's body of work. It yet again tackles many of the common themes seen in his previous screenplays and films, without offering anything new to the table. Its ending feels very brief without much resolution.
While I understood the message Kaufman was going for, I guess in a subjective way I don't necessarily agree with it. It feels much drearier and depressing than even some of his most depressing films in previous years, such as "Synecdoche, NY."
I can't really fault the film overall, though. It feels very honest and forthright, while at the same time keeping a fair amount of wit and laughs to balance out the depressing thoughts and themes it brings to the table. Just, overall "Anomalisa" feels like its missing a deeper purpose/meaning and while still being entertaining and lasting, sells itself just short of being something truly great/memorable.