The surprise film at the London Film Festival is always one of the fastest selling screenings. If you’re not on the ball at 10am on the day of ticket release then you may as well not bother; it’s not quite on the level with the carnage that buying tickets for Glastonbury is, but its close.

I was lucky enough to snag a ticket to the surprise film screening at this year’s LFF. As everyone is slowly ushered in to the huge screen at the BFI Leicester Square, whispers of what the film might be can be heard above the mumbling.

Rumours of The Danish Girl and Freeheld were widespread but there were even a few whispers of Spectre and *gasps* Star Wars: The Force Awakens – I don’t think people would have been able to control themselves if the Star Wars rumours were in fact true.

So what was the surprise film? As the lights went down and the music started it up it soon became clear that we were here to watch Anomalisathe latest stop animation feature from writer and co-director Charlie Kaufman, the Oscar winning writer of such gems as Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, Adaptation and Being John Malkovich.

Anomalisa’s plot is very simple: it is about the mundanity of everyday life. But what it lacks in plot it makes up in charm, hilarity and originality.

Michael Stone, voiced by David Thewlis, is on a business trip to Cincinnati to give a speech about good customer service. All the other characters, his wife, his son, the waitress etc are all voiced by the same person; Tom Noonan (Synecdoche, New York), which adds to the feeling of insanity Stone is going through.

Not only does everyone sound the same but they also all look very similar. Their faces vary slightly to distinguish between sexes but otherwise they are pretty much anonymous mannequins. In this sea of monotony Jennifer Jason Leigh’s, Lisa, is a beacon of hope and excitement.

Stone is instantly drawn to her voice and they find each other through the crowd. The film makes a statement here about love; finding that one person in a crowd of nameless faces. Picking them out so clearly like a light in an endless dark.

They later engage in one of the most honest, funny and romantic sex scenes I’ve ever seen realized in the cinema. It is both moving and touchingly funny as the bump and fumble their way through, the often awkward, first time foreplay.

Towards the end the film begins to question the longevity of this new passion. Stone also seems to be beginning to lose his grip on reality in some very amusing dream-like sequences in the hotel basement.

Anomalisa very intelligently cuts its sweet and tender moments with laugh out loud humour. It is a tragic tale of love and life and the slow loss of sanity as we all plough through the endless monotony and routine that is life. Needless to say I thoroughly enjoyed this intelligent and highly amusing film.

Niki Alexandrou


Niki Alexandrou

Niki Alexandrou

Niki Alexandrou

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