Anomalisa Blu-ray Review

If you look in the dictionary you’ll find that the word “Anomaly” is a noun and that it is defined as: “something that deviates from what is standard, normal, or expected.” Remember that.

Michael Stone (voice of Thewlis) is a successful man in the customer service world.  His book has sold well and, if people are to be believed, his words have caused many service centers to up their productivity by up to 90%.  He has arrived from Los Angeles to address a group in Cincinnati and is sitting alone in his hotel room when he decides to phone an old flame.  Meeting up in the bar, it’s soon apparent why the two are no longer an item.  Returning to his room Michael hears a voice.  He follows it and soon meets Lisa (voice of Leigh).  A night together makes Michael question his life and those around him.


I guess now is the time to tell you the film was written and co-directed by Charlie Kaufman, the brilliantly off-beat creator of such films as BEING JOHN MALKOVICH, ADAPTATION and ETERNAL SUNSHINE OF THE SPOTLESS MIND, for which he, and two co-writers, won the Academy Award for Best Original Screenplay.  There is always something a little “odd” about Kaufman’s films and the “odd” thing here is that the story is told by puppets.  Not in the tradition of TEAM AMERICA but more like stop-motion figures.  That is the first part of the “odd” tradition.  Secondly, in a brilliant move, Kaufman uses Tom Noonan as the voice of EVERYONE that Michael comes in contact with.  Be it a taxicab driver, an old lover or the proprietor of a “toy” store that Michael visits, everyone Michael hears has the exact same vocal tone and inflection.  That is what makes Lisa so special.  Her voice jumps out at Michael, like a car horn suddenly blaring on a quiet day.  To Michael she is an anomaly.  Believing this, he begins to call her Anomalisa.


Along with the unusual Kaufman-esque quirks, the film itself is a visual curiosity.  The characters move with a slight bit of herky-jerkiness, and while the quality is first rate it is a little disconcerting.  The film is rated R and for a reason.  Puppet or not, the audience is not spared the sight of Michael’s penis as he dries off from a shower.  Also R rated is the on-screen sexual encounter between Michael and Lisa.  That and the language should tell you that, though the film did earn an Oscar nomination last year as the Best Animated Feature of the year, it’s not a film for younger eyes.  Actually, to be honest, I “watched” it a second time by only listening to the audio.  It was easy for me to imagine the film as an old-time radio program.  Kaufman’s words are so carefully placed that you really don’t need an image to propel the story.  However, if you’ve never seen puppets in the throes of passion, this may be the film to watch.


Video:  Presented in a 2.40:1 aspect ratio, the photography is soft during long shots, much sharper during close-ups of the characters.  The backgrounds (hotel room, offices, etc) are vividly clear.

Audio:  The soundtrack is in DTS HD Master Audio 5.1 and is well mixed.  All of the voices, no matter how similar, are clearly distinctive.

None of Them Are You:  Crafting “Anomalisa” (30:02):  A short but informative look at the making of the film, including its beginnings as a play and the problems that arise when you’re using puppets.

Intimacy in Miniature (9:22):  A look at how the film’s sex scene was shot.

The Sound of Unease (5:42):  A look at how the film’s sound was designed and implemented.


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