Anomalisa (2015, USA, Kaufman)

The voice and face of alienation in Anomalisa
* spoilers *

Anomalisa is a 2015 puppet/animation following Michael Stone (David Thewlis) as he travels to attend a conference at which he is to be a speaker. He arrives in present day Cincinnati airport having already had an awkward encounter with a fellow passenger at the rolling of the opening credits on their plane’s descent. I especially enjoyed Michael’s reaction to the physical contact – “you can let go now though” – and it is here where we hear of his English accent among a sea of eerily similar male-voiced puppets/co-stars.

Regardless of its child-friendly animated appearance, the film is definitely aimed at a more mature audience, made clear from the adult humour and the adult language.

Michael seems haunted by a past love when he reads an old letter, in which a woman is asking him why he left her, even “after all that fucking fucking”. We later come across this woman again when he has settled in his hotel suite. He makes three calls here – firstly to room service, then to his wife and son at home, and then Bella Amarossi. They meet for a drink, and quickly fall out, causing her to leave, and him to accidentally find himself in a sex shop. He then ends up spending the rest of the night with one of his fans, who happens to have a female voice – Lisa (Jennifer Jason Leigh). All of the characters up to this point have masculine voices except Lisa, with whom Michael becomes besotted, and then beds.

The male voice of the other characters (Tom Noonan) leads to confusion for Michael when he is on the phone, and also for the spectator – it is not entirely clear who might be speaking until the content of the conversation becomes apparent. This alienates Michael from the society of male-voiced people, and makes it even more important when he meets Lisa.

(Image: Rolling Stone)

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