Very few people choose animation for realism, and why would you, with literally anything being possible it seems strange to limit ourselves to what we see in the everyday. Yet that is exactly the purpose of the latest film by Charlie Kaufman, Anomalisa.
If you’ve seen any of his prior works (Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, Being John Malkovich, Adaptation) you’ll know that they aren’t typically the most uplifting films. Themes of memory, relationships, being in control of one’s life, and coming to terms with your inevitable death, swirl around surreal and bizarre concepts that need multiple viewings to wrap your head around. While this would normally equate to dull melodramas, or black and white tragedies, the amount of charm and thoughtfulness put into these films makes them a joy to watch, and you find yourself eager to return to his work, with the hopes of understanding its depths a little better.
This will be the second time Kaufman has directed his own script, with the first being Synecdoche; New York, the strangest and most intricate of his films to date. Hailed by some critics to be one the best films of the decade, if not longer, his unprecedented control over aspects of the film, while not drowning the film in minute complexities has set the bar high for this latest project.
However, Anomalisa is seemingly set to do the opposite most would expect. It’s not adding layers but stripping them back, removing Kaufman’s signature almost-magical designs and meta-narratives; returning to simplicity. The plot focuses on Michael (David Thewlis), a purposeless business adviser whose life hasn’t opened up, as promised by so many, but in fact closed in. He overthinks past relationships, whilst ignoring the problems in his present, and the people around him have become so indistinguishable that they all wear the same face, and talk in the same monotone.
Again, it could be very easy for this to sound and be incredibly dull, but with his track record Kaufman looks set to make one of the films of the year. In a time of indie directors being handed million dollar franchises, and everyone aiming to go bigger and better, it’s incredibly refreshing to have an artist that sees the creativity in limitation and I for one can’t wait to see Kaufman do as little as possible, to convey as much as he can.
Anomalisa (2015), directed by Charlie Kaufman and Duke Johnson, is expected to be released in the UK on 11th March 2016 by Curzon Artificial Eye. Certificate TBC.