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Kickstarter has changed the way the little guy can receive the funding it needs to get off its feet, whether it’s a new product to go on shelves or a brand new film as is the case with Anomalisa. It cuts out the middle man and ensures that there is in fact an audience (however small that may be) willing to support the project all the way through. The trick, post obtaining the monetary goal, is to transcend the role of the “Kickstarter funded project”, and instead be known solely by the quality of your project; mission deemed successful, Anomalisa.
Can you imagine a more boring film than one based on a middle aged man on an overnight work trip to host a conference on being a good customer service representative? Oh and I forgot the best part, the conference takes place in Ohio. Oh the horror. Well, if the actors weren’t so extraordinary and the characters weren’t puppets made from 3D printers, perhaps that would be the case. Though all these oddities somehow make for one of the most creatively authentic films to hit theaters in many years. There were many tiny things that added to grand sum that is Anomalisa.
Michael has just arrived in “Cin Cin City” (Cincinnati) as his cab driver calls it, and he just oozes exhaustion. He exudes from his pores. I would be willing to bet he had aged 10 years in the last two years alone, one of those types. The commentary from the cab driver was quite amusing as Michael simply deep sighed in response.
As he makes his way through the mundane (life, city, hotel, insert any word), you just wonder what it is that has made him so unhappy. I’m not sure when, but at some point I came to the conclusion that there wasn’t a singular event or person that brought Michael to the place he is now, and there wouldn’t be a singular event or person that would help him out of it. His psychological problems run deeper than meet the eye.
Eventually he meets Lisa, a shy and awe struck young woman who has come “all the way from Akron” to hear him speak. She’s insecure and kind; she hides behind her hair and her best friend who came with her. Everything about these puppets was incredible to watch as they were made of material that you could almost feel. They had humanistic qualities and imperfections but they also had almost robotic like profiles with jaws that (from a certain angle) looked like they were masks. I loved their body types as well, neither is particularly large nor are they small. They just are. Seemingly average in every way.
As the film goes on it becomes apparent that all of the secondary characters have the exact same voice, men and women alike. It was actually quite refreshing because often times there is a point in your day when everyone who speaks starts to adopt the “womp womp” voice like the adults in Charlie Brown, or maybe that’s just me.
Regardless, it makes Michael’s infatuation with Lisa even more apparent as they both have voices all their own. I liken it to everyone being in black and white and the protagonists being in color. Is that actually how everyone in that world speaks? A la the same voice? Probably not, I reckon that’s Michael’s filter much like the Charlie Brown kids.
Anomalisa speaks to what it is to be human better than almost any movie I have ever seen. Is it a movie I would take the kids to? No, in fact I almost suggest going alone or with someone who can stand methodical films with long silences. There aren’t bright graphics, car chases, or plot twists around every corner. Instead you’ll find that you’re a fly on the wall as a viewer. I just can’t help but wonder if this film captured the humanistic emotion of loneliness so well because it didn’t actually contain any real humans, or is it more of an unintentional anomaly?

Anomalisa is streaming now on the following services:
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