Anomalisa or how I spent my Friday night seeing a man’s midlife crisis

I went to the movies last night (again), mostly to erase the bad taste left after seeing “London has fallen” only to be hammered down with awkwardness. From an animated man. Who is going through his midlife crisis and cheats on his wife with a groupie *cough* Massive fan of his book. Groupie is for artists..

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As this was in the run for the Oscars, I thought I might really find it deep, moving and with a strong message. It was deep all right and very moving but the message was clouded.

This man, Michael Stone, is an author of a self-help book that specializes in customer service and the irony is that he can’t interact with people. A man that can preach but not perform.

So he goes to a hotel (the entire action happens in like 24h) and he won’t talk to the chatty cabby, to the concierge, to the bell boy. I found the awkwardness seeping from the screen and onto me. He orders room service and attacks the mini-bar making me think that he is making LOADS of money. Do you know how much those little drinks cost?

And then he’s thinking of his old love, whom he hasn’t seen in ten years (he gets corrected immediately after he rings her by her saying that it was 11 years, followed by a “Oh God, I can’t believe it’s you!”) And they decide to meet up in the hotel lobby and go for drinks. When did you ever think that meeting your ex in a private setting would prove to be a good idea? When he suggests that they should go upstairs, she throws the drink at him and walks out. Seriously, I would have done the same but I would not have gone on a date with my ex. And he’s a pig.

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Ok, then the movie gets a bit weirder as it makes me feel like a peeping Tom, looking at Michael take a shower and then looking at him coming out of the shower, all fat and old and with his anatomically correct “package”. It takes him a while to put a towel on and I could hear in the cinema gasps of how far they went – this is adult animation all right but we didn’t even know half of it!

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So he is coming undone. He does not feel like himself anymore. Everything is just the same. This is when the crisis kicks in. And he hears Lisa’s voice for the very first time.

So far, I had thought that the movie was so low budget, it couldn’t even afford voice actors for everyone. When Lisa talks, she’s different. And Michael hears her, gets dressed and looks for her everywhere.

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And he finds her, gets her to the bar along with her friend, gets drinks for everyone and basically befuddles these two girls with his wealth, his knowledge, his status. He is famous and he’s even giving a speech the next day about all the customer support that can be done better.

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And when the night is getting older, he goes back to his hotel room and invites Lisa to join him. It was awkward again, the blond chick came here with her girlfriend, she is clearly into Michael, and yet he chooses Lisa to be his mate for the night.

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Back in his bedroom, he seduces Lisa while asking her to keep talking. There is a really, really, uncomfortable cunnilingus scene (he goes down on her) and it’s about 5min long (felt like a damn eternity) and I felt really bad just being in a cinema room with a bunch of strangers hearing sex noises coming from the screen.

He calls her Anoma-lisa (anomaly lisa) and thus the movie title comes about. Later, she writes to him saying that he found out that this “Anomalisa” word means “Goddess of Heaven” and she was truly a god-send for him.

We’re looking at a man who has a misogynistic way of looking at the opposite sex, but he also does have a psychological problem that’s preventing him from connecting with anybody – and that’s a condition that the film displays he’s desperately trying to break away from.

He created in his mind what he considered a “Goddess of Heaven” the perfect woman to him, to not only fix his loneliness but also break the spell of his Fregoli (the hotel) delusion. He was truly convinced she might actually save him.  What I didn’t like though – I feel that on some level, he is taking advantage of her.

Throughout Anomalisa Michael continuously looks outward to solve his problems, whether it is his wife and son, his old girlfriend or finally, Lisa. He not only hopes they will help him, but seems to think they have a duty to do so. Almost like the fact that everyone is indistinguishable is their own fault rather than his own warped outlook.

When the morning comes and everything is visible in the clear light of day, he looks like a man changed. He wants to leave his wife, his child, wants to be with Lisa. But as she keeps talking, her voice starts to change and she becomes like everybody else. She’s not different. He’s not different. Nothing changed. And this is where the movie becomes a tragedy.

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The movie ends with him returning to his family only to find out he didn’t really know anyone in there. And his wife was worried about him leaving. The reason why I thought the movie ended badly is that I felt I had no closure. WTF did I just see? A Japanese sex doll ends the movie singing about something…

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