Rampling was the main reason I wanted to see I, Anna, and she’s marvelous in it. Unfortunately, the rest of the movie is not nearly as good.
Just to get this out of the way, I’m up for watching just about anything if Charlotte Rampling is in it. She was a revelation in 45 Years (if you want a lesson in how to convey rivers of emotion while doing almost nothing, watch the last 15 minutes of that movie), but was equally memorable almost 50 years earlier as Lynn Redgrave’s spoiled flatmate in Georgy Girl. So Rampling was the main reason I wanted to see I, Anna, and she’s marvelous in it. Unfortunately, the rest of the movie is not nearly as good.
I, Anna begins with a promising sequence. Anna (Rampling) is seen in a phone booth, trying to cadge a social invitation and being turned down. She then heads to a speed-dating event that positively reeks of aging desperation (but let the record show that Rampling is living proof that beauty is not the exclusive province of the young). She finds someone to go home with; then things get weird, in a way that is revealed in bits and pieces. The man she went home with is discovered in a pool of her own blood, while Anna has a broken wrist and doesn’t remember how it happened. This being a movie, you can assume those two events are related—the only question is how.
DCI Bernie Reid (Gabriel Byrne) is assigned to investigate the murder, but he doesn’t seem to be much of a detective. For one thing, he doesn’t remember seeing Anna leaving the building where the crime occurred. For another, he allows his attraction to her to distract him from his duties as a policeman (but really, can you blame him?). Reid’s assistant (Eddie Marsan) is more persistent, which is fortunate because otherwise this movie would never end. For all the faults of the storytelling, however, at least I, Anna is easy on the eyes, thanks to the cinematography by Ben Smithard, who creates a chilly world of blues and greys.
The screenplay of I, Anna requires the characters to behave in ways that are motivated by the needs of the plot rather than anything we know about human behavior. I, Anna is a modern noir, so a bit of bending toward illogicality can be tolerated, particularly in a film as stylish as this one. But as the departures from logic accumulate, and the jumping backwards and forwards in time becomes predictable, you begin to lose patience with this film. I can forgive a lot if there’s a good payoff at the end, but unfortunately what I, Anna offers up is both unoriginal and uninteresting. That’s the kind of thing that leaves you feeling like you just wasted 93 minutes of your life.
Director/co-writer Barnaby Southcombe (Rampling’s son) has quite a few television credits to his name, but this is his first film. It shows, not only in the kind of burbles that are typical of first films, but also in the fact that the story might have worked better as a television program. As a movie, it feels both padded and contrived, faults that are easier to overlook when you’re watching at home, for free, and the show is less than an hour in length. | Sarah Boslaugh
I, Anna is distributed on DVD by Icarus Films. There are no extras on the disc.