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December 10, 2014

Movie Review: Anna (2013)

“Memories can’t be trusted but it’s all the truth we have.” Based on a true story... Just kidding. This flick isn’t based on anything real. If it were, we’d all be so far up shit creek I can’t even think of a funny punchline.

Anna is a present day story but in this reality, the world has something called Memory Detectives. There are certain people who can enter the memories of others. This is particularly helpful when trying to solve crime. Granted, the found memories don’t hold a lot of weight in court (which they tell us a bazillion times) as DNA is truly the best evidence but they can play key roles in finding out hidden truths.

John is one of these detectives. His boss, Sebastian, brings him in on an old case involving a young girl named Anna. Sebastian treated her years ago, when she was just barely out of knickers (or whatever the female equivalent is of a boy from the 1920s) but could not help her. She’s now gone on a hunger strike and her parents are desperate.

Stepdad wants Anna in a mental institution ASAP, accusing her of trying to stab her mother. Mom doesn’t want this but is at her wits end. John works with Anna for a week. After each session, he learns more and more about what Anna’s life is really like, locked up in this huge house or off at a boarding school filled with many bitches. Is Anna a victim of harassment, sexual abuse, bullying? Or is she a sociopath, afflicted with that kind of ennui that comes from being super super SUPER rich and off the charts intelligence?

I’ll give you guys one guess. Okay, I’ll give you two. It really can only be one or the other so you’ve got a 50/50 chance of being right.

You can tell how intense I am from the intensity of my intense stare.

I wanted to like this movie. I really did. And for at least half of it I was completely drawn in. There were so many possible outcomes it was fun to try and guess which would end up being the truth. Taissa Farmiga (AHS) is a good actress and plays this troubled teen rather well. Most of the time I wanted to smack her in the face, which may or may not have been the way she was written. Brian Cox played Sebastian and I adore this actor. He’s always fantastic and his character is one of those who you don’t know if he’s a good guy or bad guy until right near the end.

But it was Mark Strong, who played John, who was the most compelling. It could just be Mark’s face but since he didn’t really smile through the whole film, it was heartbreaking to watch him. His personal tragedies in the film added to that and when we watch him work through the memories of a rape victim (the detectives stand like silent witnesses off to the side), you clearly see how distraught he is that he can’t stop it.
I also am intense. And sad. Sad and intense. Sadly intense? Intensely sad? Someone love me...

The film itself looks great, like a big budget movie. Production value, sound and editing are really great. There are moments of audio that are meant to have the same affect as Krueger dragging his fingerknives on a chalkboard and they succeed almost too well. Luckily they didn’t over do it with the sound effects.

That said, the story itself is very unoriginal. The whole going into people’s memories has been done (The Cell) as is the premise of ‘is she innocent or crazy or too smart for her own good?’ (The Crush, The Bad Seed, Primal Fear, even Cruel Intentions for crying out loud). About halfway through I started to figure this puppy out and when I was finally rewarded (or punished) with the big reveal, I felt a bit let down. It contained one of my biggest pet peeves which always feels like a cop out.

Still a nice visual movie and the acting is good but the story was weak and washed out.

2 Hatchets (out of 5)

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