The Humanity of Puppets

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Title: Anomalisa

Rating: 5 Stars

I am a fan of Charles Kaufman. Once you see enough movies, all movies essentially become predictable. Kaufman consistently manages to surprise, and even better, surprises differently each time.

Michael Stone is a moderately successful consultant in customer service. It’s clear, after many years of drudgery and tedium, that literally every single person in the world, male and female, looks alike and sounds alike to him. He is living a drab, empty life.

Until he hears a different voice. He investigates and discovers Lisa. She’s a plain, not that smart, very ordinary woman. However, she looks and talks different than everyone else. He is immediately smitten and proceeds to seduce her. They wake up together and he realizes that he must spend the rest of his life with her. As they talk and they begin to plan their new lives together, he begins to see minor annoyances with her. As he does so, her voice slowly but surely begins to become the voice of everyone else.

In the final scene, he’s back in his large house with his wife, child, and family friends, all of whom look alike and sound alike.

Did I forget to mention that this all happens with puppets? The puppets are amazingly lifelike and move naturally. As we see when he steps out of the shower, Michael is a fully anatomically correct puppet. He has graphic puppet sex with Lisa. On the one hand, you are always aware that these are puppets, but the conversation and situation feels so real that there is a weird authenticity / falsity vibe through the movie, which I believe is the point.

Clearly the message is not uplifting. All originality ultimately becomes banal through usage. Again, the use of puppets reinforces this.

I found it to be a thoroughly original movie that was equally enjoyable to watch, even if I didn’t leave the theater whistling joyfully.

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