A highlight for many at this year's San Sebastian-Donostia film festival was the presence of screenwriting ace Charlie Kaufman who notably wrote such idiosyncratic gems as Being John Malkovich, Adaptation and The Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind.
More recently he's forayed into direction and carried his originality a stage further. Synecdoche, New York, starring Philip Seymour Hoffman, was his first directorial outing, which garnered more respect than acclaim. He then went on to write an experimental theatre piece called Anomalisa, now turned into a feature film that, after its Venice and Telluride screenings last month, has thus far maintained a 100% critical rating on Rotten Tomatoes.
Anomalisa is an odd, dark, dredging of the human soul. That it should do this with such probingly uncomfortable insight - and be made in stop-motion animation - is testimony to Kaufman and to animation specialist Duke Johnson, who co-directed. In the San Sebastian catalogue, Anomalisa is simply described in one sentence (in Basque, Spanish and English): "A man struggles with his inability to connect with others". This belies the fact that our hero is a British inspirational speaker in Cincinnati to give a talk to about his book to adoring fans.