In 1940, the boldest experiment to date in animation, “Fantasia,” hit the screens with a resounding thud. It wasn’t until decades later that this remarkable film was fully appreciated. Now along comes “Anomalisa” from Charlie Kaufman, the mind-bending screenwriter who gave us “Adaptation” and “Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind,” among others. This revelation of animation will surely not meet the initial fate of Disney’s masterpiece, but it will send you home shaking your head, wondering if you got it all. It’s the story of book author Michael Stone (voice of David

Thewlis), who flies in to Cincinnati to speak at a convention of customer service reps, but who is hopelessly trapped in the boring details of his life, a man looking for an escape valve from it all. He meets Lisa (voice of the brilliant Jennifer Jason Leigh), a self-effacing woman at the hotel where he is staying, and believes she can provide the spark he desperately longs for. We lost the sense we were watching puppets. These were real people. But Kaufman, who co-directed with Duke Johnson, will never give us the straight up-and-down. Women speak with men’s voices. Pieces of faces fall apart. “Anomalisa” is weird, haunting, disturbing and brilliant. Don’t miss it.

– Mal Karman

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