Michael Stone (David Thewlis), husband, father and respected author of “How May I Help You Help Them?” is a man crippled by the mundanity of his life. On a business trip to Cincinnati, where he’s scheduled to speak at a convention of customer service professionals, he checks into the Fregoli Hotel. There, he is amazed to discover a possible escape from his desperation in the form of an unassuming Akron baked goods sales rep, Lisa (Jennifer Jason Leigh), who may or may not be the love of his life.
I’ve been waiting to see this ever since I heard about it around the time of last year’s Toronto International Film Festival. Unfortunately for me, it hadn’t been released in Ottawa (where I am) until now. For those who don’t know the story about this film, a famous self-help author named Michael Stone (Thewlis) is in a rut, he is feeling lonely and finds his life to be very mundane and boring. Once he goes on a business trip to Cincinnati, he finds a potential savior in a sales rep named Lisa (Leigh), who may be the love of his life. This film is an animated film using stop motion animation. That is definitely a style you don’t often see, it’s one that I haven’t seen in a long time (as far as I can remember). If you’re not a fan of this style of animation, you may be bored here but I didn’t mind. It probably was one of the best stop motion animated films I’ve ever seen. The story may seem a little out there for some people but it takes a little while to get there which may make the beginning of the film seem boring but I was fine with it. The film itself serves as a character study, focusing on Michael and how he is coping with where he is in his life. The film is the manifestation of his loneliness which was represented by everyone in the film other than him and Lisa appearing to all be variations of the same person (all voiced by Tom Noonan). They almost fooled me with this because it took me a long time to figure out this fact. The reason he fell for Lisa was how different she appeared to be from everyone else as she had a different voice from the others. What kept me engaged with the story was the writing and the script. I found Michael to be a relatable, human character having real problems. The story itself isn’t too overly original but how they told it was. This is just the voyage in the mind of a damaged human being. Even though it didn’t always make sense to me, I found myself invested in him. The only real thing I didn’t like about it was it could have gone a little further into Michael, so I could understand him better. I knew he was unhappy with his life but I didn’t see the problems with his home life and marriage. So in other words, I would have liked the film to be longer (which is something I don’t say often), at least 15 minutes or so. Overall, this is a great animated film with great voice acting and an original story.