I, Anna (review)

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I Anna red light Charlotte Rampling

I’m “biast” (pro): nothing

I’m “biast” (con): nothing

I have not read the source material

(what is this about? see my critic’s minifesto)

Bitches be crazy! Of course the bitch here is a lady, the exquisite, sophisticated Charlotte Rampling, and the film is adapted for the screen by her own son, TV director Barnaby Southcombe, so you might expect her to be treated with a bit of respect, and yet… a gloss of edgy noirish elegance cannot disguise the fact that this is yet one more tiresome example of the thriller subgenre that posits that the most interesting thing that a woman can be is out of her mind. I mean, sheesh, London cop Bernie Reid (Gabriel Byrne: Jindabyne) goes all stalkerish when he spies gorgeous Anna Welles (Rampling: Melancholia ) sashaying away from his murder scene, but the movie doesn’t seem to think there’s anything wrong with that — not even when Bernie utterly fails to get even the slightest whiff of a suspicion that she might possibly be involved in the crime. He’s just a normal dude being a normal dude going all horndog in the presence of a beautiful woman, just like any guy would do, nothing unprofessional about that. But Anna… everything about her life and everything she does rings with dread topped with a dollop of nutso. She suddenly has a fractured wrist but cannot remember how it happened. She meets Bernie again later — at a speed-dating event to which he has stalked her — and cannot recall their prior meeting at that crime scene. Even something as simple as a glimpse at her job — as a salesclerk in an upscale department story — echoes with oddity seemingly intended to make us wonder just what the hell is wrong with Anna. I honestly thought we were going to learn that she was, for some crazy-bitch reason, impersonating an employee, for the scene is built upon a foundation of cuckoo, and Southcombe presents it as if Anna’s psyche is treading on eggshells. Which it is, of course: the precise form of the bitch’s craziness, when it comes out, is completely clichéd and predictable, trading on narrow preconceptions about the sorts of things that allegedly consume women to the exclusion of all else, and also wildly implausible, for it presumes to make a direct connection between the various types of crazy bitches can be, and fails to make any sense even on the faux-noir, bitches-be-crazy scale. It’s based on a novel by Elsa Lewin [Amazon U.S.] [Amazon Canada] [Amazon U.K.], which I can only hope is a lot smarter and a lot more realistic about women’s lives than this is, or at least that it merely spins a better mystery around the craziness of bitches. Bernie gets a lot more benefit of the doubt, and with a lot less reason, than Anna does, which is both unfair to the characters and unsuited to the web of suspense the film seems to believe it is weaving, and is in fact wholly nonexistent.

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Jake Johnson
Jake Johnson
Mon, May 15, 2017 7:49pm

Hmm. This review misses an early plot point, and that leads to a misreading. Reid, the detective, does not just stalk her. He’s seen her near the scene of the crime acting a little confused, and is acting on a hunch. There are much larger problems with this film. The largest is that the initial crime gets jumbled up at the end with Anna’s past that we never learn exactly what happened in either the crime or her past. And the two seem unrelated. Her past action (a mistake, a mental lapse?) does not motivate her most recent action, or spring from a neurosis that would cause her to take both actions.