I'm Thinking of Ending Things and trying to get my head round what it was all about and understanding what was going on, I thought I'd try another of Charlie Kaufman's challenges! This time it's simpler, but just as interesting and with depth.
This one is from 2015 and a short punchy stop-start animation which has been beautifully filmed with the finest of detail technically throughout. It has a style and creates a mood, not designed to be perfect but purposefully removed from reality, reflecting one of the film's central themes.
Michael Stone is an author, expert in Customer Services and depressed soul reflecting on the futility of existence, regretting previous and current decisions and detesting the boring place in which he finds himself. Think Reggie Perrin without the comedy. The story starts as he arrives to give a speech at a conference in a hotel where many of his followers, fans and supporters have flocked to hear him.
He's on the phone to the family, he's trying to look up old flames, he's trying so very hard to inject something into his mundane life. He's disillusioned, drinking too much and not really interested in anything. Then suddenly, something presents itself and he meets a girl he falls in love with, or so he thinks, who could change his life around. This was the spark of energy he had been waiting for. It's really important that he doesn't blow it and let his mental state leading up to this point get the better of him.
David Thewlis plays the voice of Michael and Jennifer Jason Leigh, the girl, Lisa. Tom Noonan voices many of the other characters and they all do that ably well. The significance of a male voice taking on most of the female characters as well as male becomes apparent later on. Well, you didn't expect it to be straight forward did you! Having said that, this is nowhere near as complex and twisted as I'm Thinking of Ending Things. Compared to that, this is simple!
There are messages through this film about people living in bubbles of isolation as they appear to be living an ordinary life. There is much sadness portrayed in our central character and also an insight into how that misery can infect those around the person. It's about people and how they interact on different levels but also about how easily one in their midst can slip away into a world of their own dissatisfaction.
It's an excellent, well observed film which I thoroughly enjoyed. Uplifting it is not, but there are pockets of fine humour to enjoy as well, thrown in for good measure. Recommended.