Last night Rick and I saw Anamolisa, a new stop action film by Charlie Kaufman. Except for the sudden graphic sex scene between the puppets, the movie felt very slow to us. Still, it built momentum and we walked out of the theatre deeply moved. But what was the message? I had a few ideas and this morning more became clear to me.
Do these ideas make sense to you? Spoilers ahead!
The movie is a study of misogyny. Others have written about the name of Michael’s hotel, the Fregoli as a clue to the film. Fregoli syndrome is a disorder where a person has a paranoid belief that different people are in fact a single person. Perhaps Michael has this disorder since everyone in the film, except for Lisa, has the same voice. But maybe the disorder points to a deeper message. Is Michael looking for his one true love in a sea of not-true-loves? After their one night stand, Michael hears Lisa’s voice change. Now she is like everyone else.
Lisa is very similar to Michael’s other romance in Cincinnati, Bella. Both women are beautiful but don’t see this. Both women are terribly insecure but also vibrant and fresh. Bella was clearly devastated by Michael. When he left her, she stayed in bed for a year. But Michael only sees his own needs and suggests to Bella that they go back up to his hotel room. When she refuses, Michael finds Lisa.
Lisa is young, sweet, and malleable. She is willing to relocate with Michael after their one night of passion. Lisa wanted only to be a girl who “walked in the sun.” The morning after, as Michael begins to criticize her for every little behavior, Lisa begins to apologize for who she is. But visually she is bathed in sunlight. Lucky for her, Michael returns to his wife and the final shot of Lisa is again filled with sunlight. Although Michael has been poison for others, he has freed her to be herself and to begin to believe in her new name.
At home, Michael gives his son a very inappropriate gift of a sex toy. It is an antique woman, broken and battered. The final shot of Michael shows him sitting with the toy. He can’t seem to relate to anyone else.