Wednesday, 6 January 2016

REVIEW - ANOMALISA (DUKE JOHNSON AND CHARLIE KAUFMAN)


Have you ever felt different? Not a little bit different, but profoundly different, aberrant, so wholly unrelated to the rest of society that you feel you'll truly never fit in? That's nice; you're probably wrong. You're probably not actually that different, so stop worrying. Anomalisa is the fear of what it means to be different, the isolation of it, the pleasure of it. It's about disconnect from a society which you identify as rotten and stultifying, invasive in the wrong ways and detached in the wrong ways. Charlie Kaufman is a very perceptive person - he pens characters and dialogue that seem lifted straight out of reality - but in Anomalisa he shows none of that perceptiveness in how to place these characters. This is plain old middle-class white male ennui, the mid-life crisis that's, yes, brought on by society's stultifying strictures, but also only by a rigid adherence to them. The problem that resides at the very core of this film: it's a portrait of a man who considers himself deeply different from the rest of the world, when in fact he is its archetypal figure. And if that only increases the ennui, don't come crying to me; try living a life of genuine, inescapable difference, and then tell me how you feel. Anomalisa proceeds from this flawed notion to engage with several more - the supposedly life-changing mini-relationship at its centre is too banal to truly convince as the intense encounter it's designed to be, and is largely predatory and horribly sad - and, in so doing, betrays Kaufman's brilliance as a filmmaker. He's capable of extraordinary things, and the way in which he handles the tone and pacing of the film's final few scenes is a clear sign of this. But he's yet to grow out of his man-child phase, which seems to only burgeon with each new feature. Time for a little difference from yourself, Charlie.