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Non-Review Review: Anomalisa

This film was (almost) seen as part of the Audi Dublin International Film Festival 2016.

Anomalisa is a heartbreaking tale of isolation and loneliness, an affecting drama about living in a world that feels illusory.

Directed by Duke Johnson and Charlie Kaufman, from Kaufman’s screenplay adapted from his own stageplay, most of the discussion of Anomalisa has focused upon its unconventional production. The movie was essentially crowdsourced, as the space allocated in the closing credits to the project’s kickstarter backers will attest. However, Anomalisa is also a stop motion production, painstakingly and meticulously filmed using life-like dolls to tell a sad story about adultery and anomie.

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In some respects, this fascination with form makes sense. After all, Anomalisa is a very human and grounded story. Even allowing for the difficulty that Kaufman had fundraising for the project, it would likely have been more practical to realise the story with living performers in a more conventional style. However, the distinctive technique provides a powerful emotional weight to Johnson and Kaufman’s story. The relative banality of the illusion is very much the much the point.

Anomalisa is not so much a story about fantasy as it is about a disconcerting sense of unreality.

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