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I, Anna – Review
UKScreen Rating:

I, Anna – Review

WHAT’S IT ABOUT?

Ageing and lonely, Anna (Charlotte Rampling), goes to singles nights to try to find a man to fill her life.

She lives with her daughter and grand-daughter, but any male presence in her life is long gone.

After a night out, she bumps into detective Bernie (Gabriel Byrne) in the lobby of a block of flats where he’s investigating a murder.

Taken with her, he starts to follow her in a way that for anyone else would be deemed stalking – but for him, his uncontrollable attraction to this older woman is curbed only when it appears that she could be linked to the death that he’s investigating.

WHAT’S IT LIKE?

This film is an uncomfortable blend of genres, trying to keep several balls in the air at the same time and not quite succeeding with any of them.

The police procedural is weak, as it has to dovetail with the other branches of the plot, which include the personal romance between two lost souls and a psychological drama about an emotionally damaged grandmother.

The film gets the most out of some rarely seen locations – it uses the looming height and darkness of London’s Barbican to add a sense of cinematic dread to what could easily have been any other housing estate, Southend works as the end of the world, where people might readily flee to in a panic, and Anna’s place of work – the exclusive Peter Jones department store in Kensington – has a cold efficiency that betrays the emptiness of her soul.

But it takes more than the cinematography and production design to hook viewers into a drama; it’s anachronism is confusing to – some of the characters still use phonebooths rather than mobile phones, and the police use old computers with green fluorescent lettering on a black background, yet one of the police cars has a 2009 license plate.

While Barnaby Southcombe does the best he can with the source material, he gets lost somewhere on the A13. A fractured timeline is used not to heighten tension but to confuse the audience into thinking that the story might be working better than it actually is.

Even an impressive cast isn’t enough to make it work – particularly not a twist that seems to come unconvincingly out of nowhere, unnecessarily trying to persuade you that you’ve been watching a different film.

You might wonder how this promising but as yet unproven director managed to get an actress of the calibre of Charlotte Rampling on board his debut feature – he called in a favour from his mother – Charlotte Rampling.

It’s by no means an embarrassment for anyone involved, but it’s no more than an interesting exploration into what Southcombe might try to do better in the future.

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