By Ashley Tejeda
Anomalisa (2015), directed by Charlie Kaufman, is a film about a man named Michael Stone (David Thewlis) who desires more out of his everyday mundane life. Stone is an author that specializes in customer service ironically enough, because he does not interact with others very much at all in this film. On a business trip Stone meets Lisa (Jennifer Jason Leigh) an escape from his repetitive life and she was hope for something extraordinary. Throughout the film I have noticed how several film factors par take in setting the mood and sending message across.
Towards the beginning you might feel as if this movie is a forty-minute drag of dullness, but once the movie starts it is extremely important to focus on every details. The characters, dialogue, lighting, camera shots, color and music all play a role towards the message of the movie, which is “sometimes there is no lesson. And that’s a lesson in itself,” stated by character Michael Stone. We truly learn to appreciate the amazing creativity coming from the puppet movements. Stone is a relatable soul and sometimes everyone can feel that way he does. His encounter with Lisa is short lived but sends the message that sometimes life is just what it is. We question what we are to one another, to our selves. Yet, we see puppets acting like us and actually going through realistic mind bottling topics about life and you cannot sit there but think you are not Michael Stone, stuck in society too.
This film is authentic and proves that cinema is “an industry and an art form.” (Joseph M. Briggs, The Art of Watching Films) Anomalisa is a film that has several scenes, which display the connection of lights and shadow. The cinematography done by Joe Passarelli, set the emotional atmosphere for the film. The entire montage of the film was very unique to other regular non-animated films. Each shot was taken step by step and then put together, like a puzzle. The lighting was always dimmed and gloomy sort of like the main character Michael Stone. Shadows depict a sense of anxiety and danger. Whenever there was a strong appearance of lighting it symbolized hope in the film. Most colors within the film were neutral nothing vibrant or over the top, very similar to the whole storyline of the film. Music was an important role in this film. Could say it was a character as well. All songs were smooth, low-pitched jazz and easy listening sensations. The music was mundane just like the life surrounding Stone.
When it came to screen format I noticed a lot of Panavision’s (also known as wide screen shots but a tad bit wider). A great example of a wide shot was in a scene where Michael arrives home from his business trip and sits on his house stairs contemplating. Here we see the same people he is tired of and only one change a antique doll that still because in sync with the common scenery surrounding him. Everything is the same, there is no resolution in this wide shot and that is what wants to be displayed. Although, there were plenty of wide shots we also see several close ups. These close ups provide the audience to connect with the characters in the film. Throughout the film we feel as if we are first of Michael guiding his boring dreadful life. We see his carelessness for people, whenever he is intrigued, stressed out and non-fulfilled. We connect and sympathize with Stone’s emotional sates because the close up shots allowed us to.
Other close ups shown in this film that I found interesting was one; a scene where Stone has lunch with an old fling, they order cocktails and you can see both of them are trying to maintain their composure. We get a zoom in shot of Stones hand on the cocktail glass moving rapidly showing his sense of nervousness. Another example is when Stone stares at himself in the mirror and his face shifts to several other peoples faces. This displayed how even though he think everyone is common, so is he. There was a shot were Stone stared at a door to a room. Our camera angle never changed but we were all of a sudden on the other side of the door in the room Stone was about to get in. This part right here was interesting to watch. It was a swap of views from Michael’s to the person on the other side of the door.
The entire film is angled on a bird’s eye view to get the constant visual that Stone is fragile and is always going through something physically or mentally. The texture of the film was smooth-grain film stock which provided the light and shadow concepts. Since the film was so visually clear the impacts were much more understandable. For example, there was a scene where Stone was running away from danger in the hotel hallways. The further he ran the lighting shifted to none at all to send a message danger was coming and the character felt unsafe.
Characters within the film were very limited because the distinction was very hard to pinpoint. All characters had the same exact voice except for Michael Stone and Lisa (until a certain part in the film). All characters started off flat and in the end were still flat. Michael Stone we see a bit of change but not so much. He is the only character that has a completely different tone of vice throughout the film, English accent to be exact. He is a loner, unhappy, intelligent, wants more out of life and shows signs of psychological disruption. We only see his character “come alive” when he meets Lisa and a sexual encounter with her. He becomes hopeful, happy, and even sweet. After, he realizes he no longer wants her he shifts back to the same solitude soul as before. Lisa is nerdy; lacks self-confidence and extremely talkative. Her character does not change at all. In the end all characters in this film are flat.