“I’m not a sociopath. Just smart enough to think like one.” – Anna Greene
Anna is a psychological thriller/mystery/science fiction (sort of) movie that unfortunately never quite remembers it’s supposed to be any of these things. It takes us along for a decent ride that ultimately never quite goes anywhere.
Anna takes place in a world (near future/alternate timeline) where there are people who are “viewers”. These people such as John Washington (Mark Strong) can enter into other people’s memories and “view” them as they occur. They work for companies like John who are hired to help with court cases, often I would imagine with the defense to help prove their innocence.
“Now, you may see me in the distance, but you won’t know that it’s me.” – John Washington
John is hired to help Anna (Taissa Farmiga), the 16 year old daughter of an extremely wealthy family who has stopped eating because her mother and step-father won’t allow her to leave her room (ever). This all sounds pretty normal. John has sessions with Anna and the movie progresses along as he continues to uncover more and more of her memories.
There was a lot of potential here, seeing as it was obviously molded after a much more successful movie. The similarities being John can enter memories (dreams anyone?), he had a wife who was obsessed with reliving a memory and when he wouldn’t help her anymore she took her own life (it should be coming back now). She invades his memory sessions if the other examples weren’t enough. I won’t begrudge a movie for taking ideas from another strong movie and trying to expand on them, but if Inception were a play, Anna is just a single act of that play.
However, Anna still was still enjoyable even if it gave itself away in the first twenty minutes. If you’re paying close attention you will know what’s happening and how it will end which detracts from the experience a bit. Most of the characters are incredibly flat, but that’s actually okay as it helps to highlight the interplay between John and Anna.
This is the real strength of the movie. Taissa Farmiga plays Anna scarily well, making her cold, detached, and manipulative but with just the right dash of emotion to make her still feel like a person. She really should get a lot of credit for the way she ran with this role, even if the writing wasn’t superb it was done well enough to allow her to shine. Anyone else in that role and I believe the entire movie would have unraveled.
There are moments where Anna presents a chilling presence (usually within memories) that raise many interesting questions. But, as I said the movie never really gets anywhere and those questions are flatly answered with a rather bland ending.
And the ending was the worst part of the movie for me. I enjoyed the movie even if it was a bit obvious, because even if you know where the ride is going that doesn’t mean it can’t be a fun trip. **POTENTIAL SPOILERS** But the ending focusing on John and the tryst/love triangle that took up all of about 3 minutes screen time prior made little sense. I felt as if I was supposed to feel some great redemption for John, and if that were the case they chose the completely wrong person for that interaction.**END SPOILERS**
Overall, Anna was a movie that was well acted by its two main leads, and because of this is well worth the watch. Even if you only watch it for Taissa Farmiga you will not be disappointed. However, it is likely that the poor ending and the dead giveaways throughout will leave you feeling as if there was more to it and you just weren’t paying enough attention. It may even tempt you to watch it again just to be sure, but there isn’t.
3.5/5 (general). Excellent acting from the leads, a fun ride if a bit obvious. A poor ending, lack of subtlety, and the blatant taking of ideas from another movie may detract from it for some people. Worth watching if you like these types of movies, or are a fan of Taissa.