Directed by Jorge Dorado (assistant director on The Devil’s Backbone, Bad Education, Talk To Her and many more outstanding Spanish films) with a screenplay from Guy Holmes and Martha Holmes, Anna brings us into the world of memory detectives; people who have the ability to enter our memories to find more information about past traumatic events.
John is our classic disgraced professional. Once at the top of his game, his own traumatic experiences began to intrude on his work. Now desperate for money, John agrees to take on the case of Anna; a 16 year old girl who is either a sociopath or a victim of trauma herself. Played by Mark Strong (RocknRolla, Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy) John is a man haunted by his past and determined to get to the truth behind Anna’s behavior. As he develops a relationship with Anna, played with doe-eyed malevolence by Taissa Farmiga (American Horror Story), the questions regarding her innocence begin to pile up.
Told through John’s visits to Anna’s memories, Anna is a girl who is constantly finding herself in the wrong place at the wrong time. If someone suffers any level of physical harm, Anna is there, yet she swears she has never harmed anyone. Anna’s unusual ability to control her memories and her constant flirting with John seem to indicate that she is, indeed a sociopath. But is she?
We have a mysterious person following John, a suspicious father, a predatory teacher and so many questions it becomes difficult to keep track of everything going on. What is real, what is a memory and is it John or Anna’s memory that we’re seeing?
With such an awesome pedigree of talent behind the movie, Anna is, ultimately, disappointing. It looks gorgeous, the way the memories are filmed is beautiful and Mark Strong is an undeniably magnetic actor. Basically, I’ll watch anything with Mark Strong in it and I also have a fetish for Spanish cinema; perhaps I had set my hopes to high when seeing Anna, but it just fell a little flat. So much potential and such an intriguing premise lacked the necessary suspense to keep me on the edge of my seat. Anna is not by any means a bad movie, it simply suffers from trying to cram too much story into 99 minutes, which is a sin in and of itself. I really do love the story and my biggest complaint is that I want more. I want more background and information on John and Anna. I especially would love to know more about this whole memory detective thing. I can’t help feeling this would make a much better television series than a movie.
Anna is currently available on V.O.D.