Movie reviews: 45 Years; Anomalisa

I recommended Anomalisa to a therapist friend of mine, but it surely is not for everyone.

45yearsWith the Daughter away on a ski trip, even though she doesn’t ski, it was an opportunity to see not one but TWO movies at the Spectrum Theatre in Albany, pretty much back to back: 45 Years and Anomalisa.

While they are quite different films, they have a few things in common. They were both nominated for Academy Awards, they’re both about male/female romantic relationships which involve sex scenes, and neither would be categorized as a feel-good movie.

45 Years

A couple has been married for four score and nearly five. They were going to have a big party a half-decade earlier, but Geoff Mercer (Tom Courtenay) had undergone heart bypass surgery. So they, mostly his wife Kate (Charlotte Rampling), are planning the gala when Geoff gets a letter about someone in his distant past.

At first, she takes in the news and tries to be supportive. But as he shares new revelations, and she digs for even more, she starts doubting the very foundation of their relationship.

Both lead performers in 45 Years are strong. Charlotte Rampling has been nominated for an Academy Award for Best Actress, and I’m a bit surprised, because it’s a very internal role in a restrained movie.

If I was a little impatient with it – the most significant reveal comes 2/3s of the way through – it’s probably because it was based on a short story, and that at 95 minutes, it still felt too long. I wouldn’t say it was boring, but certainly, it is slow and subtle.

Still, it generated an interesting conversation with my wife about how much of one’s past one tells a new lover, and when.
ANOMALISA

Anomalisa

There were two reasons I wanted to see the stop-motion animated film Anomalisa:
1)It was put together by Charlie Kauffman, who has made films I liked, such as Being John Malkovich and Eternal Sunshine Of The Spotless Mind
2) It was nominated for Best Animated Film

One has to get used to both the animation style and the voice choices of Anomalisa, which eventually made sense to me. By happenstance, we ran into a friend of ours, who saw the film at the same time. She asked afterward, “I don’t know what that movie was about.”

On the surface, it tracked successful writer, Michael Stone (voiced by David Thewlis), in Cincinnati to talk about customer service. Yet he has a difficult time relating to other people, even those he meets who are undoubtedly using his techniques.

He looks up his old girlfriend, whose hate-filled letter from over a decade ago he still holds onto. He obligatorily calls the wife and kid back in Los Angeles.

Then he meets someone he finds extraordinary, Lisa (Jennifer Jason Leigh), though no one else, certainly not herself, would agree with this assessment.

The couple sitting behind us walked out in the middle of the film, because Michael is not a likable guy, or maybe because of the sex scene.

I’ve subsequently have become convinced that he has a mental illness, tipped by the name of the hotel, the Fregoli. I recommended this film to a therapist friend of mine, but it surely is not for everyone. My wife disliked it intensely.