Anomalisa

Ideas about this film I am willing to entertain:
1. We are supposed to think of Michael Stone as an awful human being.
2. Everyone is poorly written on purpose, that's the point. Michael can't see anyone other than as a sketch of a human being that exists in relationship to him.

Arguments about this film I am not willing to entertain:
1. This film has any insight or anything of significance to say about Michael, the male psyche, masculinity crisis, or anything else.
2. Writing a movie poorly on purpose means that the movie doesn't suck in part for being poorly written.
3. Being completely unadventurous and refusing to try to be smart, interesting, new, insightful, specific, interesting, enjoyable or anything like that means that you can't criticize it for failing to generate a modicum of interest.

Basically, this is one of those movies where everything about it that sucks, anything that could be called offensive or simplistic or poorly done, can be justified because "that's the point." If Charlie Kaufman had made a good film (instead of turning a stage reading play into an animated movie) it perhaps would have interrogated the exact kind of shallowness he succumbs to by creating some kind of genuine aesthetic distance or framing device (the animation and narrow focus on Michael actually emphasize this film's problems even as it arguably justifies or explains them; compare with something like Vertigo or Lost Highway - unlikely reference points, sure, but those films, like Anomalisa have delusional protagonists and intentionally simple writing of supporting characters, but, unlike Anomalisa, use a variety of aesthetic tools to interrogate aspects of the male psyche that create that closed-in world, hinting at its insufficiency). Furthermore, none of the allegedly intentional shortcomings of this film do anything to counter the fact that it is totally banal and uninteresting to watch, nor do these "oh, maybe that's intentional" revelations make anything in the moment intelligent, insightful, or worth contemplating.

We can reward a bad film because its one success in filtering everything about it through a troubled individual's mindset allows for retroactive justification of everything bad about it. Lisa is poorly written? "Oh, that's the point" (Would it ruin "the point" if she had a single reasonable line of dialogue? I suspect not). Or we can call it what it is. Charlie Kaufman has written pretty strong scripts in the past and directed a pretty strong film, and I suspect he will again. I hope we don't have to wait another seven years for him to try.

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