Andrew Mobbs (mobbsy) wrote,
Andrew Mobbs

Anna M.

Anna M.
Directed by Michel Spinosa

A strong psychological drama, while slightly too flawed to be truly excellent is well worth watching.

We first meet Anna as a plainly dressed young woman working restoring books in the National Library in Paris. She seems calm, good at her job and kind to her coworkers. Through a few superbly constructed scenes we quickly get a sense of her loneliness, still living at home with her mother with no sign of a social life.

One evening Anna gets up and decides to walk in front of a car on a busy street. It didn't come across to me as a suicide attempt, more a drastic way of changing her life. Anyway, next we see is her recovering in hospital, clearly a few months later. Here is where the main body of the film begins, Anna falls for the doctor treating her. It begins normally enough with a slightly comically awkward, but successful, attempt to engineer a meeting and a coffee. However, the doctor is happily married and not interested in Anna. Her desire rapidly becomes obsessive stalking where Anna is increasingly delusional about the situation.

The direction of the film and the cinematography is very good. Spinosa uses techniques reminiscent of Hitchcock horror films to keep the viewer on edge. We have wide shots of spaces empty but for Anna, and crowd scenes where the depth of field is held tightly on her. There's a constant sense of unease about the situation that works very well as virtually the whole film is from Anna's perspective although we're clearly seeing it from outside her head. The performance by the lead actress Isabelle Carré is superb, as it needs to be in such an intense film focused so tightly (figuratively and often literally) on the one character.

The weaknesses are largely around the plot and characters other than Anna herself. While you could excuse some of that by arguing it reflects the monomaniacal viewpoint, the doctor and mother are fairly weak characters and the rest of the cast barely display any personality, or have much chance to. The story isn't entirely unbelievable, but is stretched sufficiently thinly for dramatic necessity that it shows in places. As an examination of the boundaries of desire, obsession and mental illness it's excellent; as a drama it's decent but patchy.
Tags: cambridgefilmfestival2007

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