After you have reviewed each of the films of Charlie Kaufman, we finally arrive at its second output and the sixth scenario : ANOMALISA. A movie a lot more clean and simple compared to the others, but just as deep. We will try for a few tracks of analysis, to unravel the mystery of this author’s fascinating is Charlie Kaufman.

Synopsis : Michael Stone, husband, father and respected author of “How can I help you help them ?” is a man ossified by the banality of his life. During a business trip to Cincinnati where he has to intervene in a congress of professionals of customer services, he sees an opportunity to escape his despair when he meets Lisa, a representative of pastries, which could be or not, the love of his life…

ANOMALISA has in spite of this script without ambition manifesto, very large singularities. There is first, an animated film frame-by-frame where the characters, inside and outside of the narrative, are puppets. Puppets with all – except the protagonist, Michael – this same face and this same unique voice (that of Tom Noonan) regardless of their gender or age. All are, apparently, interchangeable, posing the outset a questioning of identity through the loneliness, or more subtly a reflection on a discharge Freudian (more on that later). The arrival of an anoma-Lisa will give Michael a taste for life, a willingness to believe again in love, or at least to the power of love.

Before starting the analysis of the film, to make a brief return to what seems to us to be the method screenplay by Charlie Kaufman…

Charlie Kaufman (the author) raises the issue of the scale of his work, on the complexity of the human being, and, in particular, its own complexity.

The three components of its scenarios are as well, always the same :

neuroses : Charlie Kaufman embodies the neuroses of its own through the various protagonists of his films. At the centre, an avatar of the author (Craig, Bronfman, Chuck Barris, Charlie & Donald Kaufman, [[[Joel]]] Caden Cotard, Michael), and on the periphery of other characters impersonating other neuroses, that through their interactions constitute a way mind-made film, to a catharsis – different in each movie.

experienced : Kaufman built then lived persistent to each character, an experience that will define their neurosis of the present. Sometimes this experience is integrated into the narrative (Eternal Sunshine, Human Nature) sometimes this experience is put at risk by the characters (In the skin of John Malkovich, Confessions of a Dangerous man). And sometimes the two (Synecdoche, Adaptation.).

Rules : Kaufman then creates a world that is more or less realistic to be governed by what will be experienced and the neuroses of the protagonists to interact in any logic. A world which allows him to play the puppeteer with a famous actor, or with a human “virgin” of any frustration or neurosis. A world where we can be at both sides of a line of the entertainment absolute : madness and self-consciousness. A world where we can put in scene in order to better penetrate the mysteries of art and self-awareness. A world slightly science-fictional to examine its relation to the other. Or all this at once : the challenge of representing the complexity of the human soul through the facets of his own personality is dramatically gaining in magnitude with Synecdoche New York, a work-self-portrait-fantasy-testament brings together all the elements above-mentioned in a mise en abyme of the real AND the fictional, and where the author would be “inside” the experience of the other (including his own). A film density is an undeniable fact, but indigestible ;

These three components interact with a logical absolute, which is a component of the scripts seemingly crazy and nonsensical but yet, a consistency crazy.

ANOMALISA observed a new avatar of Charlie Kaufman, Michael, at a crucial stage of his life – that of the balance sheet. What kind of man he was, what a man will be there… What perception does he have of the world, how is it perceived by the other. What does he expect of the future, how his past has he built… what is feel ? What is live ?

The first paradox ofANOMALISA begins with Michael, which will be defined through the obsessions and neuroses of the characters satellites – yet seemingly interchangeable. It is in them that Kaufman engages in any of his science of writing experiences, making Michael the character with the least “human” of the film, by its passivity, distant and depressed. Michael is a receptacle of the neuroses rather than a catalyst of its own evolution. A receptacle, however insensitive, as they are too self-centered. As a receptacle, Michael is gradually “filled in” by these obsessions, until they overflow in an (anti-climactic) explosion of madness.

A program that might appear to be self-reflective and personal, malaisant and inaccessible without a strong dose of empathy and identification with their author Charlie Kaufman… If it was not for Lisa-theanomaly– that will come to personify a certain humanity in this film neurotic, the space of an instant. Beyond this character, it is the artistic collaboration with his interpreter, Jennifer Jason Leigh (re-proved by The Eight guys) that allows you to accessibiliser neuroses Kaufmaniennes by Lisa one of the most persistent characters and humans of the author. This reminds us of the importance of Spike Jonze and Michel Gondry in the achievements that are In the skin of John Malkovich, Adaptation and Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind. Specifically, Lisa is a girl at all levels (culturally, professionally, physically, sexually) but just touching this awareness of his own ordinariness. A character is fragile and sensitive, neurotic, of course, sometimes vocal, sometimes deep in memories, and sometimes completely stupid, fragile, beautiful… A range of feelings and emotions presented in less than an hour and yet it is, paradoxically,… as a puppet.

“A film airtight, to be contaminated by a certain sensitivity, a richness and a depth that is never fully exploited… ANOMALISA is a film that is paradoxical.”

By short and sudden interaction between Michael “the one who has lost his humanity”, and Lisa “the one who is full of humanity by its” banality, Charlie Kaufman takes us to the memory ofEternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind; a sublimation of the feeling of love through a deconstruction cynical and pessimistic. After having made an assessment of the deterioration of this feeling through the characters of his wife and her ex, Michael will consider a re-beginning, in the person of Lisa. In fact, the relationship between Michael and Lisa is onlya vulgar coup de foudre… But here it is : we are in Charlie Kaufman. Even an emotion as powerful and uncontrollable that it should be intellectualized, conceptualized, disembodied and then rehabilitated.

At the opposite extreme of this romance, however, there is a track more Freudian : Michael – the avatar of Kaufman up here – focuses only on the femininity of Lisa (her voice, her face), and on his own desire to possess it, all aspects together, this anomaly. Is this not a way to stem a suicide homosexual relationship ? After all, seeing in each one and the same person is also a passion and an attraction shameful… A thesis reinforced by the famous Fregoli (the name of the hotel-the place of the action) ; Fregoli was an artist, ventriloquism (using the puppet) and transformist of the 19th century. He changed his suit up to a hundred times per show, and played all the characters. Be reached of the syndrome of Fregoli it means to suffer a form of delusion paranoid : convinced that a be we continue, changing shape ; we find this enemy in every person he met. In reality, this enemy is not a facet of oneself that one wishes to suppress ?

Kaufman shows in any case, in view of the conclusion of this story, a pessimistic quite unalterable, as to the feeling of love… which results in some discomfort for the viewer.

In the margin of this warm heart, but ultra-neurotic, there is a reference obviously to the theme Kaufmannienne of the consciousness of the puppet ; these, unable to control their own destiny, would be directed by… a divine consciousness ? An instinct millennium ? Obsessions personal to each one ? A simple artistic ambition ? Existential questioning that will probably never be straight answers in the film , Kaufman… In ANOMALISA, it can in any case generate some frustration about the tracks metaphysical primed but never developed – or reinforce the aura of mystery and unfathomable inherent in the scenarios of the author.

Regarding the achievement, there are two things. There are the animation ( Duke Johnson), perfect and successful, giving without a lot of emotion in these objects (in)animated… and Then there’s the implementation stage, only illustrative of the script. It lacks a certain talent, that of a Jonze or Gondryto bring that personality added that in the past, décupla the sensitivity and/or the playfulness of the scripts of Charlie Kaufman.

An antithesis of Synecdoche, New York ; its richness and depth, although present, are never exploited ; a film hermetic and self-centered to be contaminated by a delicate feminine sensibility, a non-entertainment in an animated film… In the end, ANOMALISA is a film that is paradoxical.

Critical written six hands, by Felix, Sofiane and Georgeslechameau


Criticism of the films scripted and directed by Charlie Kaufman

In the skin of John Malkovitch (1999)

Human Nature (2001)

Confessions of a Dangerous Man (2002)

Adaptation. (2002)

Eternal Sunshine of The Spotless Mind (2004)

Synecdoche New York (2008)

Anomalisa (2016)



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Original title : Anomalisa

Achievement : Charlie Kaufman, Duke Johnson

Screenplay : Charlie Kaufman

Main actors : David Thewlis, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Tom Noonan

Country of origin : U. S. A.

Released : February 3, 2016

Duration : 1h30min

Distributor : Paramount Pictures France

Synopsis : see beginning of critique

Category: Uncategorized

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