The Rear-View Mirror: Anomalisa (2015)

Each Friday we travel back in time, one year at a time, for a look at some of the cultural goodies that may appear closer than they really are in The Rear-View Mirror. Join us on our weekly journey into the past!

In a better, fairer world, Charlie Kaufman’s IMDB page wouldn’t indicate that the director hasn’t had any films in development since 2015. There are kazillions of dollars around for the likes of Michael Bay, surely it wouldn’t be too horrible if a bag of cash ended up on the doorstep of Mr Kaufman, right?

Anomalisa

As it stands right now, Anomalisa may have been Kaufman’s final film – which would be a crime against cinema, as there are no writers that come even close to the writer-director’s brand of metafictional, metaphysical tragicomedy. However, there would be worse films to end a career on than Anomalisa. It isn’t Kaufman’s magnum opus – that title is surely reserved for Synecdoche, NY – but it is more focused and more intimate, its stop-motion animated puppetry perfectly complemented by a wonderful set of voice performances by David Thewlis, Jennifer Jason Leigh and Tom Noonan. All the Noonans. Maximum Noonan.

As with all of Kaufman’s films, this isn’t the kind of story that will leave you singing and dancing happily. His protagonist is an alienated sad sack and his one-night romance with the one woman he perceives as a real person is doomed to fail. However, as neurotic and hangdog as the world according to Kaufman is, I find his constant inventiveness joyous and invigorating. There’s nothing else that looks, sounds or feels like a Charlie Kaufman joint.

Kaufman got this film made using the crowdfunding site Kickstarter, and I’d gladly pledge to any future projects he announces; I hope that even if he doesn’t have enough fans in the glossy offices of the big studios, there are enough people out there who’d want to support his creative endeavours. Cinema would be poorer without the wonders of “Malkovich, Malkovich!” or the Chinese Box soundstages of Synecdoche, NY – or indeed Tom Noonan’s rendition of the Flower Duet from Lakmé.

The Rear-View Mirror will return every Friday, looking further and further into the past. Fasten your seatbelts: it may just be a bumpy ride.

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