Anomalisa on Blu-ray – The DVDfever Review

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Anomalisa centres around Michael Stone (David Thewlis), a man in his 50s, and a self-help guru who has travelled to Cincinatti to give a talk on customer service. His life is boring and he can’t find a way to break out of it, but like all of us who can be bored with our lot in in life, just once we would like a chink of light to break through and show us something good.

This is also the film which portrays all of the characters with stop-motion animated puppets. Yes, a film aimed at adults, but without human actors onscreen at any point. In fact, even an old film on the TV is played out with puppets.

As Michael stays at the Fregoli hotel, ahead of his conference, he reconnects with lost love Bella, and also meets the self-depreciating Lisa, one of two women who’ll be at his speech, who he chances upon them in the hotel. I don’t want to go into too much detail about what takes place, but it’s a beautiful examination of a short moment in time and even the title of the hotel has an important part to play, but this is only described in the Q&A within the extras, so you’ll have to buy this to learn that.

It has all the little foibles of life, such as Americans trying to understand his English accent, plus a number of odd moments like the hotel receptionist staring back at him while typing at his keyboard, even though he clearly can’t see what he’s typing – a moment that you only realise is happening the more it goes on.


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Michael looking unsure, as usual.


Life is short and Anomalisa shows highlights how much of it we waste not getting what we want out of our time, here. It also has an interesting design for life: “Look at what is special in each individual, and focus on that.”, and is very charming with some light and surprising humour at times, one early moment being as Michael’s plane comes in to land and the nervous-flyer passenger next to him grabs his hand for comfort.

It’s feels rather odd at first that Tom Noonan (who I remember most as Cain in the hit and miss Robocop 2) does everyone else’s voices apart from David Thewlis and Jennifer Jason Leigh, since he doesn’t change his voice in any way, slightly similar to listening to an audiobook where the narrator is only one person doing all the voices. However, it transpires there is a reason for this.

A couple of asides: I notice Michael didn’t wash hands after using the toilet, on arrival at his hotel room. Then again, he smokes as well, so he has a number of bad habits. And how he seems to have such charisma is something alien to himself alone.

Anomalisa sadly hasn’t been a hit in the US, but it really deserved to be seen by everyone.

And something I’ll wrap a spoiler tag around, as it’s not something you should read before watching the film.

Spoiler Inside SelectShow


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Michael and Lisa.


The film is presented in the original 2.35:1 widescreen ratio and in 1080p high definition and is as pin-sharp as you’d expect, allowing the full majesty of the stop-motion work to come to life, and feeling life-sized when, as the extras show, it’s more pint-sized. For the record, I’m watching this on a 50″ Panasonic Plasma TV, the film playing from a PS4.

The audio is in DTS HD 5.1. Of course, it’s not got sound FX whizzing around the speakers, but it does have a gorgeous score from Coen Brothers regular Carter Burwell.

The extras are as follows and aside from the first one, I would’ve liked more overall:

  • Q&A at Curzon Soho (25:38): with directors Charlie Kaufman and Duke Johnson, plus producer Rose Tran.

    I really enjoyed this supplemental, with it starting off as a radio play, and how it took a Kickstarter to turn it into a stop-motion animated film with 3D-printed characters. And, as Charlie confirms, he deliberately left some aspects of the script ambiguous so that each viewer can take away from it what they want.

  • Featurettes (9:18): These are more like brief snippets that TV stations could use to slot in the middle of their own interviews with cast and crew. The later ones focus on individual aspects of the film and only last a few seconds, which is a shame. I’d like more detail – when they first began, I assumed the first featurette ran 9:18 but no, that was the length for all of them.

  • TV spot (0:15): A brief TV trailer.

  • Behind the scenery gallery (1:21): Many on-set production photos set to the main theme, including a shot of some of the hundreds of different face parts. Do NOT watch this before seeing the film, otherwise, you’d be spoiling the suspension of disbelief.

  • Trailer (1:49): In the original aspect ratio.

The menu mixes clips from the film against a short piece of the main theme, there are a bog-standard 12 chapters to the movie (I prefer one every five minutes, so that would equate to 18, in this case), and oddly, there are no subtitles for this film.

Anomalisa is released today on Blu-ray and DVD, and click on the packshot for the full-size version.


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Taking a break on set with a drink from the hotel bar..


FILM CONTENT
PICTURE QUALITY
SOUND QUALITY
EXTRAS
8
10
8
4
OVERALL 7.5


Detailed specs:

Cert:
Running time: 90 minutes
Year: 2015
Cat.no: ART178BD
Released: July 11th 2016
Chapters: 12
Picture: 1080p High Definition
Sound: 5.1 DTS HD Master Audio, DTS 5.1, Dolby Digital 5.1
Languages: English
Subtitles: None
Widescreen: 2.35:1 (Canon EOS 7D)
Disc Format: BD50

Directors: Charlie Kaufman and Duke Johnson
Producers: Duke Johnson, Charlie Kaufman, Dino Stamatopoulos and Rosa Tran
Screenplay: Charlie Kaufman
Music: Carter Burwell

Cast:
Michael Stone: David Thewlis
Lisa Hesselman: Jennifer Jason Leigh
Everyone else: Tom Noonan

Reviewer of movies, videogames and music since 1994. Aortic valve operation survivor from the same year. Running DVDfever.co.uk since 2000. Nobel Peace Prize winner 2021.


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