Reviewed by: Curtis McParland
What should a Christian do if overwhelmed with depression? Answer
What brings true happiness?
inability to connect with other people
having a mundane life
How can I deal with temptations? Answer
What are the consequences of sexual immorality? Answer
David Thewlis … Michael Stone (voice)
Jennifer Jason Leigh … Lisa (voice)
Tom Noonan … Everyone else (voice)
Charlie Kaufman—“Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind” (2004—Writer/Producer), “Synecdoche, New York” (2008), “Confessions of a Dangerous Mind” (2002—Writer), “Being John Malkovich” (1999—Writer/Executive Producer)
Michael Stone (David Thewlis) is a depressed man, crippled by the mundanity in life. He is a well-known author known for his books on customer service. But as Michael leaves on a business trip, he continues to struggle with his inability to connect with the people around him. Everyone just seems to be the same person to him. Nobody is different. No one seems to be special or out of the ordinary.
As Michael checks in to the Al Fregoli Hotel, little does he realize that his life is about to be turned around when he meets a charming woman named Lisa (Jennifer Jason Leigh). Lisa appears to be someone out of the ordinary. Someone extraordinary to Michael. Yet he does not know exactly why. All he knows is that it is obvious to himself that Lisa is just that. Michael knows that our time is limited on this Earth and seeks for what is special about each individual. He discovers that Lisa is that someone special in his life, and he yearns to seek why.
“Anomalisa” is a film about life and what makes each and every individual different and extraordinary. But it is also a film coated with a plethora of vulgarity, sexual immorality, and adultery. The sexual content is off the charts in this stop motion animated film. A character is seen masturbating from a distance, a sex toy is seen in detail, and there is also a scene that takes place inside an adult “toy” store. A partially nude female doll is briefly seen on two separate occasions. It gets worse. We see our man in the shower fully nude. The image is blurred by the glass, but genitalia is still noticeable. If that isn’t bad enough, he steps out of the shower naked and later runs around the room completely nude, as well. We see him from all sorts of angles. Our man (who is married) invites a woman back to his room and things really go downhill from here.
It all begins when he first kisses her. They begin to kiss more and more until sex is brought up. The couple then begin to disrobe and sensually touch each other. No clear nudity is on display, but there is a prolonged moment of graphic oral sex, including sounds and motions. Both characters strip completely naked and begin to have sex. We then see them near fully naked, as they have sex in yet another prolonged sequence. Their most private areas are nearly obscure. The scene is graphic and does not refrain from displaying sexual movements, moaning, and loud sounds. Full frontal female nudity is later seen. A good handful of crude sexual references are made, including mention of masturbation, various sex acts, anatomy, and bodily fluids. Strip poker, STDs, and teen pregnancy are also mentioned. From behind, a man is seen urinating. Do keep in mind that the nudity on display here is very realistic and detailed for an animated film.
The language is very strong, as there are over 40 f-words, 5+ s-words, and at least 25 abuses of God’s name (paired with “d**n” about 3 times in addition). Jesus’ name is abused around 10 times, and there are a handful of other mild profanities including “d**n,” “h**l,”“ b***h,” “p**s,” and one use of the crudity “d**k.” The British profanity “bloody” is also said once and the word “poo” is said a handful of times when a character is utterly disappointed. There is no violence of concern in the film. ***MILD SPOILER*** Part of a character’s face falls off revealing a metal form inside him. It is not graphic, especially since they’re puppets and is essential to the plot. ***END SPOILER***
As for drugs and alcohol, plenty of hard alcohol is consumed in addition to wine, martinis, etc. Characters also get drunk. There is a lot of smoking on display throughout the duration of the film, as well. A character takes prescription meds (most likely anti-depressants).
“Anomalisa” is very original and contains a good concept, but, overall, it is a very odd, bizarre film. It is more or less a study of the human condition. Why are we here? What makes us… different?
“Anomalisa” is very well-crafted and well thought out from writer/co-director Charlie Kaufman. Tackling a project such as this, handcrafting puppets, and making the film feel completely dramatic, emotional, and realistically human is no easy task. I must admit, Kaufman did do an excellent job at making this film feel completely realistic. He makes his audience care about the puppet characters portrayed on screen, and you really begin to feel the same human emotions these handcrafted objects feel. It is an odd feeling, yet you feel sucked in to the animated world of our very few characters. The lighting and cinematography are superb, the direction is solid, and the story flows smoothly for its 90 minute runtime. Even the music adds a nice cinematic touch to the story.
However, my mind did feel a bit boggled by the very deep, emotional plot elements and that threw me off at times—sometimes in a good way, sometimes in a bad way. Overall, “Anomalisa” has to be one of the most creative films made this year. It has a great concept.
Now, while the film has very few faults in its overall production quality, you can see from the content description above that “Anomalisa” has many (emphasis on many) faults when it comes to objectionable content. Not only is this film very profane, vulgar, and immoral, but it promotes adultery. For the remainder of this review, I would like to discuss the immoral behavior displayed in “Anomalisa.”
The message I received from the film is that it is okay to cheat on a loved one, as long as you know that you are making the right choice. This is a very problematic message to be sending, especially in today’s sexualized culture. Time and time again when I review such immoral films. like “Anomalisa,” 1 Corinthians 6:18 (ESV) comes to mind:
“Anomalisa” pretty much says that as long as you find some form of goodness and purpose in your life, that it is okay to go right ahead and commit sexual immorality. God’s Word says the complete opposite:
“For in Him [Jesus] all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, and through Him to reconcile to Himself all things, whether on Earth or in heaven, making peace by the blood of His cross” (Colossians 1:20).
All that we do. All that we have done. It should all trace back to God in order to glorify Him and Him only. We are to worship and glorify God in all that we say and do. From the words that we say, to the actions of our very hearts, everything that we say and do should be honoring and pleasing to Him.
1 Corinthians 6:19 says that we need to treat our bodies as temples:
“Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body.”
How do we connect with others and live with purpose in our lives? The answer is quite simple: love. More specifically God’s love. 1 John 4:7-8 says “Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God. Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love.” What makes each and every individual different? The answer: technically we are not. Genesis 1:27 shares that “…God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them.” God has created us in His own image yet we are still unique, individual human beings.
So, why do I mention all of this and why did I even decide to review such a worldly film? Well, “Anomalisa” does share quite a few good examples about life. In this world today, so many individuals find themselves depressed, hopeless, lost, and discouraged. “Anomalisa” shows that each and every person on this Earth is unique, yet forgets the fact that we are all ultimately made in the image of God. It shows that there can be someone special out there for us who we can bond with. When life gets you down, a good friend can help get yourself back up. Two is better than one (see Ecclesiastes 4:9). But “Anomalisa” also displays that sexual immorality and adultery is completely normal, and that it could in fact help change your life for the better. Whoah—red flag! How can we find peace and turn our lives around? If only Michael was aware of Deuteronomy 31:6:
“Be strong and courageous. Do not fear or be in dread of them, for it is the Lord your God who goes with you. He will not leave you or forsake you.”
“Anomalisa” is the perfect example of a lost soul yearning for the wrong definition of truth. Smitten by a young woman, Michael does not even give his wife and son a second look and indulges in fornication. And since this is another piece straight from Hollywood, our main character finds peace, hope, and joy… but all for the wrong reasons. He gives into the immoral pleasures of this ungodly, sinful world and believes he finds true love at last. Many wish reality was like this. But it isn’t. As I mentioned earlier from 1 Corinthians, when one commits sexual immorality and/or adultery, all he or she does is sin against his or her own body. Proverbs 6:32 says that “He who commits adultery lacks sense; he who does it destroys himself.” This verse speaks truth and nothing but the truth. You don’t have to look hard in today’s society.
So, you can probably guess I strongly recommend that all audiences avoid this film at all costs. “Anomalisa” is being marketed as an animated film for adults. While this film is definitely not suitable for younger audiences, it really isn’t suitable for any audience, especially the Christian audience. Adultery and sexual immorality ruin and destroy lives on a daily basis. “Anolmalisa” doesn’t believe this is true. John 8:32 says “… and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” God forgives. All we have to do is repent and seek out His forgiveness and open up to the realization that we are broken, fallible human beings. God’s forgiveness = love. The one and only form of genuine true, true love.
Violence: Mild / Profanity: Extreme / Sex/Nudity: Extreme
See list of Relevant Issues—questions-and-answers.