The animated feature film Anomalisa, conceived and directed by Charlie Kaufman (Being John Malkovich) and Duke Johnson, is an insightful treatment of disconnection and alienation -- portrayed through stop-motion puppetry. It's astonishing not simply because of the fluid detai in its crafting but the smartness of its conceit: As we age and retreat from life a stifling and stiffening sameness descends that is lifted, occasionally, if we're lucky, by something (someone) genuine and unaffected. That's the story of human relations guru Michael Stone (voiced by David Thewliss) who flies from L.A. to Cincinnati to deliver yet another talk to customer service personnel who read and "loved" his book on the importance of recognizing the humanity in our patrons. Oddly, for Stone, every other person looks and sounds the same (voiced by Tom Noonan) except the shy and damaged (physically and emotionally) Lisa (Jennifer Jason Leigh) who drove down from Akron with a friend just for Michael's speech. They provide one another reprieve for a night and the morning delivers, along with scrambled eggs and Belgian waffles, a glimpse of new possibilities. Though the characters are cozy felt figurines, this is no children's feature, as it includes scenes of graphic nudity and simulated sexual relations. Highly recommended.


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