sat 15/08/2020

DVD: I, Anna | reviews, news & interviews

DVD: I, Anna

DVD: I, Anna

Charlotte Rampling is mesmerising in an icy psychological thriller directed by her son

Sanctuary in the bathroom: Anna (Charlotte Rampling) weighs her options on a date from hellArtificial Eye

Future writer-directors who cast their mothers in their first features should be as blessed as Barnaby Southcombe, who was able to cast his mum, Charlotte Rampling, in the title role of I, Anna. An actress on a formidable run, whose sphinx-like reticence usually shields her characters psychological complexities, she is typically riveting here.

Southcombe adapted the script from the 1990 debut novel of psychoanalyst Elsa Lewin, transposing the story from New York to London. A soignée department store bed saleswoman, Anna exudes quiet confidence, but her desperate loneliness has led her to attend dating parties, hosted in sterile hotels, for upmarket middle-aged types. A resulting liaison ends in a killing. She is followed by a voyeuristic police detective (Gabriel Byrne, also excellent), who’s as lonely she is. Their meeting prompts the unpeeling of Anna’s trauma.

A sleek but icy modern noir rooted in metropolitan alienation that makes atmospheric use of its Barbican locations, I, Anna indicates that Southcombe has great promise as a stylist. Sadly, the movie's flashback-heavy narrative enfolds subplots, involving Anna’s daughter (Hayley Atwell) and granddaughter and the dead man’s criminally compromised son (Max Deacon), that don’t work. The supporting performances by Atwell, Jodhi May, and Eddie Marsan are spot-on, however, while the brief contribution made by Honor Blackman, 86 when the film was made, is tart. 

The disc’s extras include a Rampling-Southcombe commentary track, a single-shot pitch-promo and deleted scenes narrated by the director, and a short featurette. In the latter, Southcombe mentions the key influence of “noir relationships” in the films of French auteurs Jean-Pierre Melville, Alain Corneau, and Claude Sautet. “There’s an elegance and an emotional modesty and reserve to that cinema, which I find really quite exciting and beautiful,” he says. “And this is my version of it.”

Watch the trailer for I, Anna

Anna's meeting with a voyeuristic detective prompts the unpeeling of her trauma

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Editor Rating: 
3
Average: 3 (1 vote)

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