'Sometimes there's no lesson. That's a lesson in itself.'
At first glance, Anomalisa is essentially a puppet version of Lost In Translation. A chance meeting at a hotel brings customer service motivational speaker Michael Stone (David Thewlis) and customer service call operator Lisa (Jennifer Jason Leigh) together. Hers is the only voice apart from his that we hear- literally, as all other characters are voiced by the same actor (Tom Noonan)
Michael is not simply depressed; he has a psychological disorder called Fregoli delusion, where he believes that everybody else, including his wife and son, are the same person. Writer/director Charlie Kauffman leaves the mystery of whether Lisa is really the anomaly (Anoma-lisa)- is Michael really in love with her or is she just every other woman he's been with?
Jason Leigh is particularly endearing as the desparately awkward Lisa. Thewlis' portrayal of Michael's depression and delusion is both touching and troubling.
The use of animation is interesting, forcing the audience to find humanity in a simulation of humanity. It's an odd choice but it completely works for the film. What could come off as odd and prententious in real action comes off as nuanced and emotional in animation.
This film won't be for everyone; the slow pace of the stop-motion animation, the low-keyed setting mixed with the surreality of one actor voicing multiple characters (with only the slightest pitch change to indicate a male, female or child). It's also a film that you really need to see by yourself rather than with family or friends (and that's not because of the sex scene) in order to connect to the loneliness that runs throughout the film.