Charlie Kaufman has been one of the most consistently unique writers working in independent American film for about fifteen years now. His screenplays for Being John Malkovich, Adaptation, Confessions of a Dangerous Mind and the sublime Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind┬ásingled him out as a genuinely original voice, as did his branch out into directing with Synecdoche, New York. It should hardly be surprising then to see him turn to stop-motion animation for his next project, with a cast of three (two protagonists and a third actor playing all the other parts) and having started life as a “live radio” stage reading. By his standards, it’s almost mundane.

Like much of his previous work, it’s a very introspective piece, experimental in form and style but very inward-looking in terms of its content. How much you enjoy it is very much dependent on how much interest you have in disaffected middle-aged men who need a quirky woman to brighten up their ennui-laden lives. It has some real highlights – a consistent sense of humour that makes the most of its inherently comical puppetry, some perfectly-pitched voice work and a surprisingly tender and realistic sex scene. However, it does essentially boil down to inviting its audience to feel sorry for a deeply self-obsessed and dull man, which might well be the point but also suffers from limited appeal.

Charlie Kaufman is one of the few reliably original voices in American independent film8
And this is utterly weird, even by his standards7
Strangely, it's also probably his funniest film9
But there's only so much you can feel sorry for another middle-aged white man who wants a cool girlfriend5
There's a pretty graphic sex scene, with puppets, that is somehow not ridiculous8
Bechdel Test Passes
  • Features more than one named female character
  • The female characters talk to each other
Bechdel Test Failures
  • I'm pretty sure they only talk about the male protagonist
7Overall Score

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