The melancholy gloom that permeates every frame of Charlie Kaufman and Duke Johnson‘s Anomalisa (Paramount Vantage, 12.30) is not, to be honest, conveyed by this trailer. The voice-over narration by Michael Stone (the lead character voiced by David Thewlis) is from a speech he gives to a group interested in his philosophy of customer service. Within the narrative Stone is a decent if self-centered and occasionally dickish fellow — a little peevish, a lonely married-with-kids guy who feels stranded, a cigarette smoker. The film takes place at a soulless Midwestern hotel, and focuses on a 24 hour period in which Michael ardently woos Lisa (Jennifer Jason Leigh) and then…uhm, well, more or less brushes her off. But as I discovered after my second viewing if you can get past the Kaufmanesque weltschmerz Anomalisa is a compassionate mood trip thing — a rich and somewhat complex adult animated film — and a very striking application of stop-motion animation. At 48 frames per day the film took three full years to shoot.
The gloomiest humanistic movie of the year, and it doesn’t star a single gloomy human.