Anomalisa, a stop-motion Charlie Kaufmann feature, is saturated in pained drudgery. Acutely focused on a man traveling to a conference to promote his book on customer service, the beginning sequences are drawn out in their attention to the annoyances of moment-to-moment daily existence. The viewer is in Michael Stone's world, trapped in his isolated subjectivity, and it soon becomes apparent that all the other characters he interacts with have the same face and the same voice. The effect is tremendously unsettling and uncomfortable.
In the hallway of the hotel Stone suddenly hears a different voice, and he rushes to find out who it is. He discovers the insecure and nervous and relatively ordinary Lisa. But she is extraordinary to him. Her voice is like no one else's and her scarred face is hers and hers alone. He immediately falls in love.
It raises questions about love and identity -- who is are object of desire, and what do we see when we behold them? Who are we in the crowded world of others? Are there other subjective experiences besides are own?
Anomalisa is surreal and disturbing. Claustrophobic. It includes the most tense sex scene I have ever experienced. And Anomalisa is brilliant. The mood stayed with me for quite sometime afterwards. In the final scene we catch a quick glimpse into the world outside Stone's perception, and in this moment we are released from his pained solipsism.