A list of the most unique and intelligent film-makers working today wouldn't be complete without Charlie Kaufman. The American screenwriter and director has become a well-established figure for standout films such as Synecdoche New York (which I place among the very best films of all time), Adaptation and Being John Malkovich. Add to the list Anomalisa, a stop-motion project that may just be Kaufman's quirkiest project yet. Teaming up with Duke Johnson (who directed the excellent stop-motion christmas Community episode), the crowd-funded film was an intriguing idea that took over 3 years to finish. And if Synecdoche New York was Kaufman's sprawling, expansive masterpiece then Anomalisa is quite the opposite: Compact and simplistic in concept but with a hell of a lot to say.

Customer service expert Michael Stone (voiced by David Thewlis) arrives in Cincinnati to deliver a book talk and checks into a hotel. It is clear that Michael is a troubled character, lacking motivation in his life and growing disinterested in the world that surrounds him. In fact, to illustrate the extent of his delusionment, everyone around him speaks in the same voice (with Tom Noonan voicing all other characters). This is just the first of numerous ingenious little details a la Kaufman, immersing the viewer into Michael's mind and stale view of the world. 

The arrival of the young Lisa (Jennifer Jason Leigh) however changes everything in Michael's world. He remarks early on, "I think you're extraordinary" and when Lisa asks why, he adds "I don't know yet. It's just obvious to me that you are." This sums up Michael, a lost soul who finds renewed faith in the shy but excitable Lisa. The chemistry between them provides the finest moments of the film, resulting in beautifully written and wonderfully realised exchanges. 

Leigh, delivering the one unique voice in Michael's life, provides warmth and an unpredictable nature in her role while Thewlis perfectly captures the dry, sardonic character of Michael to complete two of the finest voice acting performances in years. Noonan too lends a cleverly comical aspect to the proceedings with his roles ranging from frustrated ex-girlfriends to enthusiastic children. 

This is one of the most lovingly crafted films, let alone animations, ever created. It far surpasses the power of any of Pixar's work (though Inside Out somehow beat Kaufman's film to the best Animated Feature at this year's Oscars). In terms of pure technical quality, Anomalisa is perhaps closest to Wes Anderson's Fantastic Mr Fox. Characters express human imperfections and experience many of the quirks of everyday life. The pinnacle of the enchanting animation is the surprisingly touching sex scene which, though it may sound ridiculous, makes for one of the most powerful and moving moments in cinematic history. And all in stop-motion.

The quality of writing is also a beauty to behold. Both simplistic but impossibly dense, it creates the mundanity of Michael's life and the pure innocence of Lisa's. When the two meet, their two styles merge together remarkably well. Combined with the voice acting, Anomalisa becomes one the most touching and powerful films ever created, more human than 99% of live-action films. 

It would have been easy to dismiss an R-rated animated as something of a gimmick but this is anything but. It is all too easy to forget that the characters are little more than models and this says all you need to know about Anomalisa. The superb sound design, with environments such as airports and bars echoing with remarkable realism, does wonders to make Michael's story feel truly powerful and lifelike. 

As with much of Kaufman's work, Anomalisa leaves us with much to reflect on. It provokes deep thought and endless discussion on what it all meant. Perhaps it won't speak to some as much as others. But it connected with me in a way no film has ever done before. That is what makes Anomalisa one of the most powerful, sobering, unique and memorable films ever created. A perfect experience.