i don't stay in hotels like this
That Anomalisa is set primarily in a hotel, and hotel rooms are virtually identical wherever you go, is as important, I think, as--SPOILERS--all of the puppets aside from Michael (David Thewlis) and Lisa (Jennifer Jason Leigh) having the same face and the same voice. The film relies on existential isolation to tell its story. Making the location as anonymous as the puppet extras is important.
They have three of the sets on display at Arclight Hollywood right now, with some of the figures. You can see their faces Here:
There is a painting in Michael's hotel room as well that is basically fractal in design--zoom in or out and the image looks the same. Like an echo of Kaufman's Synecdoche, New York... which I only just learned that a lot of his fans didn't particularly like. I liked it.
Anyway, the fractal--the hotel room as a microcosm of the larger world, or a larger living quarters anyway, with the bed, the bath, the toilet, a refrigerator/minibar, a television, and a view of the city...
That view of the city reminds me--while Michael has a smoking room and even smokes in the hallway of the hotel, which suggests sometime before the present... At least, I have not been in a hotel in a while that had smoking rooms. Pretty sure they are not common anymore. But, then, I think it's when Michael first looks out his window at the hotel that he spies a man sitting at his computer and masturbating. A brief invocation of the anonymity of the internet and pornography.
(For the record, the film seems to be set specifically while George W. Bush was president.)
Michael's dream at the end of act two takes him into spaces that you don't usually visit in a hotel--a large office full of desks (like the classic secretary pool from old films) and then the hotel manager's office which is unusually large and empty. In these locations, Michael discovers that while he is Michael Stone, everyone else is the same person. The anonymity goes from subtext to text. But, only in Michael's head.
And, then his face falls off.
And, the lights going off in the hallway as Michael and Lisa run echoes Kaufman's Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind.
It's like Kaufman has been telling a version of the same story over and over again, exploring the way we connect (or don't) with one another, the way we find or lose love, and within those two, how we find self. And lose it.
The hotel creates a temporary condition, being free of the usual self, free of your usual responsibilities, your usual friends, free to make and break new connections.
And, I need to watch this movie again. There are too many details to write about, and I don't want to squeeze them all into one blog entry.