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Anomalisa featurette highlights patience and precision of stop-motion magic

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When you see how much work goes into stop-motion animation, you might ask, “Why would anyone choose to make a film this way?” The process is tedious and time-consuming, and at the end of the day, you’re dealing with lifeless puppets. But then you see a film like Anomalisa, and you can’t imagine a more tender and emotional human experience. It had to be stop-motion.

“You’re watching this thing that’s hand-made, that’s been created by people, that’s been manipulated by animators,” says writer and co-director Charlie Kaufman. “You can see that, and you can feel it.”

Co-directed by Kaufman and Duke Johnson (Community), Anomalisa tells the story of Michael Stone (David Thewlis), a beleaguered semi-famous author who risks everything — his career, his wife and child — when he finally encounters a woman (Jennifer Jason Leigh) who looks and sounds a little different. Michael suffers from something akin to Fregoli syndrome, which causes him to mistakenly see and here everyone he encounters as the same face and same voice (Tom Noonan). So he’s immediately smitten by Lisa, because even if she’s relatively average, the fact that she’s unique to Michael makes her irresistible. 

A new featurette (below) looks at the incredible patience and precision that went in to bringing this story to life. “Each animator had a goal of two seconds of animation — which is 48 individual frames of animation — per day,” says Johnson.

Anomalisa debuted to critical praise at the fall festivals, and the Independent Spirit Awards recognized it with four nominations, including a nod for Best Feature. Paramount will release the film on Dec. 30.