Midway through Charlie Kaufman and Duke Johnson’s masterful stop-motion drama Anomalisa, the two main characters—who are puppets—engage in a strikingly intimate sex scene. It’s an awkward but lovely sequence that somehow feels way more real than any love scene acted out by real people in 2015. In the scene, we watch the characters, Michael (voiced by British actor David Thewlis) and Lisa (voiced by Jennifer Jason Leigh), get together in real time, from their initial fumbling flirtation to the moment of climax. It sounds like it should be played for laughs (remember Team America’s puppet sex?), but it’s not at all. Against all odds, Kaufman, who initially wrote the story as a play he staged in 2005 with the same actors, and Johnson have made puppet sex the most intimate thing you’ll watch all year. But how? We talked to the directors, Puppet Supervisor Caroline Kastelic and Leigh and found out.

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