Carter Burwell Scores with ‘Anomalisa’

The soundtrack for the new film Anomalisa is an entertaining experience all its own. Longtime Coen brothers collaborator Carter Burwell lends his efforts to directors Charlie Kaufman and Duke Johnson for their new film, and the final results are excellent. Anomalisa is being praised by viewers worldwide and the music fits the tone of the film perfectly.

Carter Burwell uses a vast arrangement of instruments and styles to create the tones and themes used in the overall score. Starting with the film’s Overture, we are introduced to recurring elements of strings, wind instruments and piano melodies that almost seem menacing. The occasional distorted guitar riff adds to the feeling of intensity, and that’s even before the first voice comes in.

According to Burwell, “Everything about it is slightly out of kilter – the instrumentation, the harmonies, the rhythms. On the other hand, it is humble, ingratiating, even kitschy. The music insists on the sincerity and value of the characters.” What’s really interesting about the album is how dialogue from the film is woven throughout the score. It’s unique and unconventional, and it works.

Actor Tom Noonan drifts in and out of the record as he plays every supporting role in the film. His rendition of the Flower Duet from the classic opera Lakmé is a surprise highlight, and his dialogue excerpts are engaging. The main characters played by David Thewlis and Jennifer Jason Leigh get plenty of time together as the music sets up each of their scenes.

Anomalisa is described as a “darkly comedic and surreal stop-motion journey of a man’s long night of the soul” and the music certainly sets the tone well. Carter Burwell does fantastic work establishing many deep and provocative moods with his music. Highlights of the soundtrack include Cin Cin City, Another Person, Lisa in His Room, and My Name is Lawrence Gill. Overall it is an album that accompanies the film well and makes for a great listen by itself.


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